Doctors rule out strike action

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WIGAN doctors will not strike again in a row over pensions.

Following industrial action last month, in which British Medical Association members went on strike for the first time in 40 years, the union have announced discussions will now take place with the Government.

Although disruption in Wigan was minimal during the strike on June 21, thousands of non-emergency operations, such as knee and hip replacements were cancelled across the UK.

Across the borough, about 65 per cent of GP practices treated only urgent cases but bosses said only a small number of operations and appointments were postponed.

The remaining surgeries were open but provided a reduced service by treating only urgent cases and refusing to do paperwork.

Fears of long waits in A&E departments also failed to materialise – with most patients listening to advice to stay away unless their condition was serious.

The BMA has argued doctors are being unfairly singled out as their contributions will rise more than other public sector workers.

The government is already in talks with other health unions, but has been insistent that it would not negotiate with the BMA while they were still threatening industrial action.

Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the BMA, said: “We always said that we would review our action in order to determine next steps.

“Having done that, it is clear that only escalated action has any possibility of causing the government to rethink its whole programme of changes.

“The BMA and the profession as a whole are unwilling to do that at this point because of the impact on patients.”

He said in particular the union would be focusing its attention on the proposal to increase the retirement age to 68.

Doctors, along with other health workers, have said the demanding nature of the NHS means working until that age would not be safe for patients.

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers, which represents health managers, said: “The NHS will breathe a sigh of relief that there will be no industrial action for the moment.”