Increasing NHS Pension Scheme contributions by up to 6% over the next three years, is unjust and misguided, the BMA says today (Friday 21 October 2011), in its response to the government consultation on contribution increases to the NHS Pension Scheme from 2012.
The BMA also expresses frustration at the government's refusal to enter into meaningful negotiations with unions on its plans for NHS pensions.
Many doctors have already seen their contributions increase by 42% following earlier changes to the NHS scheme – agreed between the health unions and the government in 2008.
That major overhaul of the scheme ensured it was designed to be sustainable over the long term, and to withstand changes in the economic environment through a cost-sharing agreement which protects the taxpayer from future cost increases. The government's current plans would see contributions increase again by a further 71% over the next three years, says the response. This would mean that the contributions to the NHS Pension Scheme for some doctors would have increased by 142% in the six years since 2008.
BMA research shows that a junior doctor aged 25 today who qualifies as a consultant in the future, would pay almost £200,000 in additional contributions.
Commenting on the BMA's response, Dr Hamish Meldrum, Chairman of BMA Council said: "Increasing contribution rates now when agreement on such a major overhaul of the scheme was reached with the Government in 2008 is unjust and misguided. It is also completely unnecessary given the current financial health of the NHS scheme.
"We acknowledge the financial difficulties that the government is facing but it is totally unreasonable to expect NHS staff, who are already subject to pay freezes and potential redundancies, to take a further, substantial hit. This arbitrary proposal from the government is simply an ill-concealed tax on those working in the NHS.
"Thousands of doctors have already made the government aware of the strength of feeling among the profession by responding directly to the consultation. While industrial action will always be a last resort it remains an option for the BMA to take."
The BMA is also concerned about the government's wider proposals for public sector pensions – including imposing an inferior career average earnings (CARE) scheme, and increasing the normal pension age for members by about five to eight years.
The BMA response urges the government to abandon their present course of action and work constructively with trade unions to reach a sensible agreement.
Your comments (terms and conditions apply):
"This is just another excuse by the government to make us pay for the greed of the banking sector. In a weekend when corporate bonus' and handouts has increased by 49%, this millionaire government is continuing its onslaught against public sector workers. Contrary to what the Tory press
constantly insinuate we do actually pay into our pension pots; and the scheme was deliberately made more attractive to persuade well educated and trained health professionals to stay within the NHS. (Nurses as well as doctors.) This government is hell bent on destroying the NHS by slowly
destabilising the fabric of the NHS and the soul of its work force in the hope that we will all raise our hands and accept that we have to take these cuts "for the sake of the country" - and if we dont we can then be blamed for its downfall. A perfect Thatcher tactic of the 1980s. Cameron may like think we are "all in this together" but most of us are being left in the creek with a capsizing canoe. After all, what does he
care? He - and his public school government - are millionaires many times over!" - Name and address supplied
"I think the goverment is unjust and unfair; and really slowly trying to kill off the remaining conscientious NHS doctors mentally and physically. Destroying their soul" - Hilda Singh, Enfield
"I think the whole thing is criminal, we signed an agreement with the NHS pensions scheme and I really don't understand how they can now just change details of that contract no other provider would be allowed to do this. I do not agree with the whole concept of hitting NHS staff with a stealth tax through pension contributions but surely the only legal way to do this would be to change its contracts to future employees as was done when the pension contract changed in 2008. From April 2008 a new pension scheme came in to force so there are now two sections to the NHS Pension Scheme. If you were already a member of the NHS Pension Scheme on or before 31 March 2008, you are a member of what is called the 1995 Section new staff join the new 2008 section" - Tee, North West
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