Medics on strike in pension dispute

Health Secretary Andrew Lansley
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley

DOCTORS across the borough were going on strike today in a row over changes to their NHS pensions.

The medics were postponing all non-urgent care for 24 hours in Wigan as hundreds join the national protest after a big vote in favour of action.

The British Medical Association said it was taking action “very reluctantly” but attacked the government for going back on a deal on pensions agreed four years ago.

Those taking part today include GPs, hospital doctors and public health and community health medics.

The BMA ruled out a complete strike or withdrawal of labour, but doctors will not undertake duties that can be safely postponed.

A spokesman for the Wigan Borough Clinical Commissioning Group (WBCCG) said: “The BMA have made a commitment to protect patient safety and ensure that emergency cover continues to be provided across the NHS in Wigan.

“The union has said that doctors will attend their usual workplace on June 21 to carry out all urgent and emergency care.

“However, the union has said that as part of the day of action it will postpone non-urgent care.

“For example, the BMA has said it will postpone any consultations or procedures than can be safely delayed.

“The union has worked with NHS organisations to make sure decisions about any disruption were taken well in advance.

“We have also worked closely with other local NHS organisations to minimise disruption as much as possible.”

Bosses at Wrightington, Wigan and Leigh NHS Foundation Trust (WWL) are urging anybody who is concerned and wishes to check on an appointment or planned surgery scheduled for June 21, they should call the appointment centre on 0300 555 4567.

Andrew Lansley, the Health Secretary, has warned that more than a million people could be affected by the first industrial action by doctors for almost 40 years.

The row is over changes to their pensions that will see them pay more for the same retirement package and an increase in retirement age to 68.

Meanwhile, nurses and midwives will support industrial action by doctors after being told by Royal Colleges not to take on their duties.