We, the members of the European Junior Doctors Permanent Working Group, representing 300.000 Junior Doctors all over Europe unanimously support the actions implemented by British Junior Doctors regarding the protest against the changes to the pension scheme.
Doctors in the UK took industrial action on 21 June to protest about changes to the pension scheme that is run for workers in the UK's National Health Service including doctors, nurses and non-clinical NHS workers. This followed a ballot by the British Medical Association (BMA)which showed an overall response rate of 50%junior doctors voted 92% in favour of industrial actionwith consultants (senior hospital doctors) voting 84% in favourand GPs (senior primary care doctors) voting 79% in favour. The action took the form of doctors providing "urgent and emergency care only"with all doctors attending their place of work as normal but refusing to provide elective care (this includes non-urgent surgery and non-urgent out-patient clinic appointments).
The dispute itself was over proposed reforms to the pension scheme which would see doctors paying higher contributions towards their pensions (the top rate going from 8.5% to 14.5% of salary before tax going towards the pension scheme) and the normal pension age being increased to 68. Doctors say that they already made changes to the pension scheme in 2008 which address the issues of sustainabilityfairness and affordability which the UK Government says are behind the proposalswhich are similar in principle to those being applied to all the public sector pension schemes.
The day of action passed quite calmlyand with variable participation across the country. Some hospitals postponed procedures prospectively but others brought all the elective patients in as planned and many doctors treated those patients as normal. The Government claimed that only 10% of doctors took partwhile the BMA says that there is no way for the Government to be able to establish that figureand that 4 out of 5 hospitals had agreed to postpone some operations and out-patient clinic appointments in advance of the day of action.
The BMA last week elected a new Chairman following its Annual Representative Meetingas Hamish Meldrum's term of office had come to an end. The new Chairman Mark Porter has asked for an urgent meeting with the Government to discuss the pensions plans in the hope of avoiding further industrial action which may include escalation of the form of action. The BMA has clearly stated many times that patient safety has to be the main consideration when planning industrial action. EJD is particularly pleased that the strong focus in planning has been on patient safety during any industrial action.
In our opinion the British government has to keep on guaranteeing a fair level of pension giving to Junior doctors of Great Britain another reason to see their future workplace in a country which presently needs them.
Marburger Bund Support Note June 2012:
Letter of solidarity to British doctors considering strike action over pensions
The Marburger Bund, being the largest doctors union in Europe, supports the call to strike of British doctors organised in the British Medical Association (BMA). The plans of the government to severely cut pensions of doctors have caused this first call to strike since 1975. Therefore, many British doctors feel insecure in the carrying out of the planned strike actions. The members of the Marburger Bund have learned from their recent past that sometimes strikes are an unavoidable instrument in the scope of negotiations. Through strikes the Marburger Bund succeeded in 2005/2006 to enforce the professional and monetary interests of its members. For this reason we support the industrial actions taken by British doctors and send them our declaration of solidarity.