Is another Doctors Strike on the Cards?

Doctors Strike

Earlier this month saw thousands of medical appointments be cancelled as doctors striked over proposals to amend their pensions.

With no settlement yet in place, this week the Director of NHS employees Dean Royles, has made a plea to doctors that they put their patients first before considering a further strike. Royles urged the British Medical Association (BMA) Council to think about the patients when considering the next course of action following a meeting this week.


Referring to the fact that doctors would argue that they did not fully strike in the sense that any important or urgent care was still administered, Royles commented on their actions saying that "the doctors' strike has pulled NHS patients into a dispute not of their making and no one wants to see that happen again. Industrial action is not fair on patients and, whatever anyone says, it carries risks to them." Although he acknowledged that some effort had been made to ensure that urgent cases were dealt with he maintained his position arguing that even taking those particular patients into account that "people need to understand that even the most robust planning can never guarantee patients' safety." He noted that the action had left "thousands of people [were] inconvenienced and distressed."

Referring to the doctors' case Royles has acknowledged that there are issues that need to resolved. However, no one wants to see patients suffer simply because it is not their fault. Ultimately, when doctors strike it is the patients who suffer. Whether or not the strike was enough to shock anyone into action over pension arrangements is questionable. Health secretary, Andrew Lansley, criticised the action and made no hint that any concession would be made as a result. Dr Kailash Chand, a BMA council member, said that it had been "not helpful", had diminished doctors' standing with the public and was unlikely to compel ministers to think again. Doctors did receive negative press over their decision to strike from the public at large.

Unfortunately, circumstances dictate that a change to doctors' pensions probably does need to be made simply to make it workable going forward. Many have shared their opinion on the matter and believe that given everyone is largely living longer there just isn't enough money to continue down the current path. Longer service or increased contributions must be made. However, there are some who believe these actions have a different goal in mind. Rather than simply being about the seeming breach of trust given an agreement to make the pension workable was only reached in 2008, there are some who say that the actions are to prevent further privatisation of NHS services. It is hoped that apparent difficulties will discourage private parties from wanting to get involved. The BMA have been public about there feelings over the Government's proposed plans to privatise the NHS. Whatever, the reason lets hope for the sake of all those with healthcare needs that there is no further strike.