Doctors’ representatives have gathered in Bournemouth this week for the BMA Annual Representatives Meeting where the pensions issue will be the hottest topic both on the official conference agenda and behind the scenes.
The British Medical Association four day annual conference is being held just days after the profession took part in its first industrial action for 40 years.
The pensions issue is not due to be formally discussed until Thursday and after the conference ends that day there will be a BMA council meeting will decide what action will be taken.
The council meeting will first elect a new chairman council to replace Hamish Meldrum and then hold a special session on the pension dispute. Further action could include a repeat of this week’s industrial action, when doctors came to work but only saw patients if they needed urgent care and in which many routine and elective procedures were cancelled. The BMA could also consider disengaging from the government’s NHS reform agenda, which requires doctors, particularly GPs, to take a leading role in the new clinical commissioning groups.
Last week Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that he was not prepared to enter into separate negotiations with doctors over pensions. “I have told [the BMA] they can come and sit round the table, but what they have to do, however, is come together with the other NHS trade unions, because I will not have a situation where they threaten industrial action and then they expect some kind of concessions as a consequence of that,” he told a press briefing at the annual meeting of the NHS Confederation in Manchester last week.