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Should doctors go on strike?

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Professor Lovat
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Doctors are taking industrial action for the first time in 40 years in the UK!

I have found this a very difficult issue. We earn well compared to most people. The country is in the middle of an austerity drive unparalleled in our life times. And yet, doctors pensions were renegotiated only 4 years ago, and apparently our pension pot is in excellent shape. What is more, doctors are being asked to give 14% of their salary to support the new and less favourable pension terms.

We choose to do medicine because we are driven by a desire to help others. Many of us could have chosen jobs with much higher incomes but we wanted to do something noble with our lives. I personally rejoice every day that I chose such a worthwhile and rewarding career path.

But is the government taking us for a ride? I just wonder whether they could have handled this issue rather better? It does not seem right to change doctors pension conditions after only four years and with really quite onerous requirements.

So will I strike? No, but I feel vexed and troubled that my colleagues have been pushed to vote for industrial action. I fear it is not wise to alienate the one group of professionals who are more respected than any other in the UK (see here if you don’t believe me!).

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One Response to “Should doctors go on strike?”
  1. Dear Laurence,
    I fear that you and your fellow doctors will not get much sympathy from those of us in the private sector!

    Twenty years ago, the UK had the best private occupational pension provisions in Europe. Poor and lax regulation in the eighties and nineties allowed too many employers to brow-beat the pensions actuaries into allowing them to take contribution holidays on the back of over-optimistic assumptions regarding demographics and future investment returns. Nonetheless, on May 1st 1997, the final salary funds were still in reasonable shape.

    Gordon Brown’s decision in his first budget to remove ACT Relief from the funds was fuelled by a desire to pay for Blair’s first term spending plans without, apparently, raising any additional tax revenue and a mistaken belief that the bull market that had ben raging for several years would continue long enough to mask the impact of the ACT raid.

    The dot-com collapse saw to that and fifteen years later, we now have one of the worst private occupational pensions systems in the west.

    Quite simply, most of us in the private sector lost our final salary schemes a decade or more ago. What is happening now in the Public Sector is just a long-overdue catch-up to level things up.

    Yes, it’s harsh. But life often is.

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