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Meldrum makes parting speech as BMA leader

BMA chair calls for resolution of pensions’ dispute in final speech

Ingrid Torjesen

Monday, 25 June 2012

BMA chairman Dr Hamish Meldrum has called for resolution of the pensions’ dispute in his final speech as chairman to the BMA Annual Representative Meeting in Bournemouth.

In his last speech as BMA chairman, Dr Meldrum accused the Government of betraying doctors’ trust as it seeks to impose wholesale changes to the NHS pension scheme. This is despite NHS staff already agreeing to major reform in 2008 which ensured the scheme is sustainable for the future.

Dr Meldrum’s address to an audience of over 500 doctors on the opening day of the conference comes just four days after doctors across the UK took industrial action for the first time in forty years. He said he was “deeply saddened” that they were forced to take this action and there should now be a focus on trying to find a “sensible way out of this dispute”.

Although the action “allowed doctors to demonstrate to the Government a powerful and united voice against the pension changes”, he said, “the fight is not with patients” and their trust is too important to lose.

On changes to the NHS in England, which he describes as the “biggest, and most unnecessary and unwanted, upheaval for a generation”, Dr Meldrum warned the Government: “The BMA will be monitoring closely what is happening to the NHS, what is happening to services, what is happening in terms of privatisation, what is happening to commissioning and the big companies who want to take it over.”

Dr Meldrum warns against “knee-jerk ill-thought-through decisions” arising from the financial pressures confronting the NHS that are resulting in threats to services, jobs, and patients.

Dr Meldrum’s term of office as chairman of council comes to an end on Thursday, after five years in the role. A new chairman will be elected at the end of the conference, on Thursday.

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