Doctors Strike

Dr Hamish Meldum

This week saw doctors across the country striking. Although members of the British Medical Association (BMA) were on strike there was still a large number of doctors on duty on Thursday.

These doctors may have been in attendance but were there only to focus on care which was an emergency. It was reported that London's hospitals cancelled 520 non-urgent operations and 3,900 appointments.

 

The strike was over disagreements following discussions to changes to be made to doctors' pensions. When a strike was first broached it was heavily criticised but BMA would argue that seventy seven percent of GP practices were open and it was simply those cases which were not deemed urgent which were not dealt with on the day. In fact that remaining twenty three percent were also open but merely providing a reduced service.

The BMA is annoyed that the Government has posed to change the pension scheme given that a new deal was only agreed in 2008. It is a difficult situation in which many believe that changes must be made which affect everyone, including doctors. As the scheme currently stands it brings in two billion pounds a year, but doctors are being asked to contribute more of their wage into the pot. The problem is that this figure is much more when compared to other high earners. Doctors do not wish to return to a time where they are both over-worked and underpaid. In addition to being asked to pay more into the pot they are also being told that to get the pension that they have been expecting they will have to work to an older age. These changes, the Government argues are necessary simply to ensure that the scheme is workable and therefore something must be done.

Those who were affected by Thursday's action should manage to re-schedule their appointments with NHS London having re-scheduled eleven percent of the operations due that day. This amounted to 520 separate cases. The number of out patient appointments affected in NHS London was less, at only six percent, although this amounted to three thousand nine hundred appointments.