‘No risk’ to patients if doctors strike

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PROMINENT Fife doctors insist patients will not be put at risk during their ‘strike’ next Thursday (June 21).

But they believe they have to go ahead with their industrial action after being “betrayed” by the Government – and there’s a possibility of further days of action in protest over the changes to the NHS pension scheme.

Dr Charles Saunders, chairman of the local BMA hospital doctors committee and a consultant in Fife, expects doctors taking industrial action to provide a “public holiday plus” service as they will still turn up for work to provide emergency and urgent care.

He said: “This will be the first time the vast majority of doctors will have been involved in taking industrial action as the last time was back in 1975, so they will be playing it as safely as possible.

“If there’s even the slightest doubt, doctors will continue to provide care. Patient safety will be the over-riding priority.”

Dr Saunders said there were real concerns over some of the pension scheme changes, such as doctors working to an older age.

“For many of my colleagues, the thought of working on until the age of 68, working all day, continuing with emergency work at night, and then working again the next day fills them with horror and it would be unsafe for the person receiving treatment,” he said. “I certainly wouldn’t want to be a patient receiving treatment under those circumstances.”

Dr Alasdair Sneddon, Fife’s representative on the BMA Scottish GP Committee, accepted many doctors were well paid, but they were being asked to pay significantly more for their pensions than other public service workers on similar or larger salaries, such as senior civil servants, headteachers and judges.

He said: “No-one is going to end up sleeping on a park bench because of this, but we’ve got to make some sort of stand or the Government will simply keep coming back for more.”