Phillip Lee MP: As a GP I won't strike todayBy Victoria Smith
June 21, 2012
As a practising General Practitioner in the Thames Valley region, I will not be taking industrial action on Thursday, June 21, in protest at the Government’s pension reforms.
I would like to make clear that I am strictly against this action and will not be going on strike.
I want medical pensions to remain among the very best available but people are living longer and so it is only fair that they should work for longer before drawing their pension.
As a local GP, I have the greatest respect for the professionalism of people who work in the NHS, and the contribution doctors make to delivering high-quality care in our health service.
The Government greatly values the people that provide these services and is committed to providing them with fair and sustainable pension schemes.
However providing good quality pensions is becoming more challenging as the length of retirement increases.
That is why, in 2010, the Chancellor commissioned Lord Hutton, Labour’s former Pensions Secretary, to take an impartial, dispassionate look at proposals for reforming public sector pensions.
The Hutton Review concluded that current pension arrangements for all public sector schemes, including those for the NHS, need to be reformed.
The Government has now set out a proposed final agreement on pension reform following over a year of constructive engagement with trade unions and has made it clear this sets out its final position on the main elements of scheme design.
The offer includes a commitment that all accrued rights will be protected.
Past benefits will be linked to final salary when members leave the scheme and I believe this agreement represents fair, affordable long-term reform.
The reality of things is that with an ageing and growing population, pension reform is inevitable and will require everyone across all sectors and professions to pay more and work longer hours.
Sadly we must deal with the economic legacy we have inherited.
There is no pain-free option to cutting our deficit.
The whole of Europe is facing very serious economic challenges and uncertainty.
I believe that Ministers have listened to concerns, and come up with a deal that is fair and affordable.
I hope that all those going on strike will balance what they are doing now with the knowledge that reducing the level of UK debt will ensure future generations are not paying substantial taxes just to fund present liabilities.
The above reasons, to name only a few, outline why I strongly believe that this strike is inappropriate, untimely and irresponsible and will hit hardest some of the most vulnerable people in society.
Nevertheless, I would like to reassure my constituents, that rigorous contingency planning is in place across the medical sector to minimise the impact of the strike action and to try to ensure that patients will not suffer from any serious disruptions.