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BMA takes out advert to explain strike action

Public are given reassurance over patient safety

Jo Carlowe

Wednesday, 20 June 2012

The British Medical Association has today placed adverts in over 80 regional newspapers to explain the reasons behind tomorrow’s day of industrial action.

The move is designed to reassure patients, with the BMA reiterating its statement that patient safety will be the absolute priority of doctors on Thursday’s day of action.

Dr Hamish Meldrum (pictured), Chairman of Council at the BMA, said: “Patient safety is our absolute priority. We have been clear throughout that any emergency care – or other care urgently needed by patients – will be provided. We are undertaking this action with extreme reluctance.”

The adverts go on to explain why doctors have felt obliged to take action.

“Doctors helped negotiate a major reform of their pension scheme in 2008 that made it sustainable for the future,” Dr Meldrum states.

“This included staff, not taxpayers, taking on responsibility for any increased costs due to improving life expectancy. The scheme currently brings in £2 billion more than it pays out. Doctors are now being asked to work even longer, up to 68 years of age, and contribute even more, meaning doctors have to pay up to twice as much as civil servants on the same pay for the same pension. Doctors accept the need to play their part in improving public finances. We don’t expect better pensions or preferential treatment, just fair treatment.

“We are not expecting members of the public to support the action, but we hope they can understand why doctors have been driven to this point – for the first time in 40 years.”

The BMA confirmed that is has worked closely with NHS managers to give patients as much notice as possible of any impact for them.

Figures for the proportion of GP practices taking part in the action are still being estimated but planning with managers indicates that at least four in every five NHS employers in secondary care across the UK have postponed some non-urgent cases.

Because the action is not a strike as the term is normally understood – with doctors attending their usual places of work to provide urgent and emergency care – it will never be possible to provide exact figures on the numbers of doctors taking part in the action. However, as part of its commitment to reviewing the impact of the action, the BMA has said it will provide figures that are as detailed as possible on and after the day.

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