Doctors are ready for day of pension dispute

MINOR DISRUPTION Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham
MINOR DISRUPTION Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham
Paige Howitt

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PATIENTS are being reassured they will still get medical help despite some doctors taking part in industrial action today.

As previously reported, members of the British Medical Association (BMA) voted to take action over a dispute in pension cutbacks.

It is the first time in 40 years that doctors – in both practices and hospitals – will be taking action. GPs and doctors will see patients for urgent care, but will not carry out work such as writing hospital referrals.

Queen Alexandra Hospital, in Cosham, says only minor disruption will be caused. A spokesman for Portsmouth Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs QA, said: ‘We estimate around 84 per cent of outpatient appointments will be maintained and around 80 per cent of elective patients will still have their operation.

‘We have well-prepared contingency plans in place to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum and our emergency department and maternity services will be operating as usual.

‘We will also be running all inpatient services and urgent service.’

Meanwhile people are being urged to see their GPs as normal.

Dr Jon Price is a GP at the Osborne Practice, in Osborne Road, Southsea, and believes doctors taking part in the dispute are in the minority.

He said: ‘In 2008, all NHS pensions were reviewed and scaled back – including doctors. Staff were working longer for less, which isn’t unusual.

‘A lot of doctors aren’t happy it’s happening again four years later.

‘NHS reasons are convincing and as a practice we are not taking industrial action, we believe it is not the best way to deal with the issue and we’re not in the minority.’

NHS Portsmouth says there are 225 GP practices in the city, but the trust is unclear how many will be taking part.

A spokesman added: ‘All practices will be open and people needing urgent care will be seen. We advise people to see their doctor as normal and only use A&E if it is an emergency.’

BMA council chairman Hamish Meldrum said: ‘Doctors did not want this. We wanted the government to reopen talks on a fairer pensions deal, and it is their refusal to do so that left us with no option but to take industrial action.’