Wednesday, May 2, 2012

Pensions....

We have a privileged job, the government spends thousands on out education to mould us into highly trained professionals and in return we get reasonable pay, good job security, an interesting and relatively fulfilling job and a certain amount of kudos within society. Ok the latter might not be what is was, but then as a profession we often have ourselves to blame and to be honest, the higher the pedestal, the more unstable it is and the more likely it is to topple over and crash


 

As a locum, being allowed to pay into the NHS pension scheme is not a right, it is a privilege and the same goes for GPs; both are self employed contractors working for the NHS, but also free to earn private income. One of the criteria for being self employed as far as HMRC are concerned, GPs are particularly vulnerable to losing their self employed status or their right to be in the NHS pension scheme. They are pretty much unique in the UK in being self employed but being able to have an employer's pension. Likewise, there is no obligation for GP locums to be allowed to be part of the NHS pension scheme; we are sole traders and as such we are even further out on a limb when it comes to the right to be part of the NHS pension scheme


 

Of course the thought that out pension scheme is changing is disappointing, but we have to take this in context. we exist in a privileged position in society, we are doubly privileged as GPs and GP locums to be allowed to be self employed and have a company pension; furthermore the changes are affecting everybody in the public sector and those in the private sector are also being affected, many by the loss of their jobs


 

So when the BMA talks about industrial action, and starts rattling its cage and waving its sabres around madly in the media, who is actually going to care. Will the public sector low paid worker who is subject to similar pension changes at a time when their quality of life is probably more harshly affected by the freeze in pay rises set against rising fuel bills both for travel and in the house really give a toss about some rich doctors having to pay a little bit more for their pension. Will the private sector worker who is now on short term contract work only really feel any sympathy? Will the single mother with 2 kids who struggles to make ends meet by working in the local shop shed a tear for us and join us on the picket line as the BMA big boys huddle around the brazier with their placards and billboards


 

And if the BMA does move to industrial action - who will suffer? Patients will suffer, the very reason d'ĂȘtre of our existence


 

Quite simply any industrial action by doctors is morally repugnant, risks a backlash by the government on our right to even have a pension in the first place and would be a complete own goal in terms of public relations. Most importantly patients will suffer - operations will be delayed, clinics cancelled with only skeleton services remaining. Of course no patient will die directly as a result of industrial action, but some may die as a result of treatment delay, diagnosis delay. Thousands more will be inconvenienced, have longer waits for important investigations and so on

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