Sit back and take the medicine

More on pensions. Are you getting the idea that there’s a certain amount of jealousy here on my part?

Time was, if you were ill, you went to a stone like this, not a doctor earning five times the average wage.

Today the British Medical Association has declared that they will be ballotting their members on strike action over proposed reforms to the NHS.

The BMA is a trade union for doctors and consultants, and it is therefore logical that they should seek to protect their membership. It’s what professional and union bodies do, after all. Some look after train drivers, some school teachers, some lawyers, some doctors. And the perfidious government is proposing changes that will affect doctors.

These changes are not drastic. They do mean that doctors’ pensions will be affected. Some will see their pensions reduce. It must be hard for them.

However, doctors are uniquely privileged just now. Doctors can opt out of the long hours they used to endure, deciding not to work weekends and at night. In ten years, according to the Telegraph, the average position has seen a 54% increase in pay. The GP contracts were botched incredibly by the last incompetent government, so that a GP will earn £110,000 a year. A typical doctor retiring at 60 (not the increased age we all expect to have to work to) will earn £48,000 a year from his pension. Now, since the usual calculation of a pension is, to pay X, a sum of 50xX must have been saved, this means each doctor on retiring is possessing a pot of getting close to two and a half million quid.

But, correct me if I’m wrong, this money is not saved. It’s all coming out of current expenditure. In other words, the doctors are getting their pension payments from our current taxation.

And they’re given a £143,000 lump sum on retirement too. Nice.

So what is getting them up in arms?

They’re being asked to work to beyond 60 to get the full pension. Like everyone else in the country. That’s a reason to strike?

It’s been suggested that they should give up some of their pension in exchange for a larger lump sum.

So now, this little cartel of privileged professionals is threatening strike action.

It’s one more example of how badly our civil service pensions have become out of kilter with the majority of citizens, who either have no pension or only a small one, and who still have to pay tax to pay for the inflated pensions of those who had guaranteed jobs.

And while they argue, the annual budgets of the hospitals are being relentlessly tightened to accommodate ever rising salaries as well as the legacy of debt caused by Brown’s disastrous PFI scams.

Doctors are good to have. I know several who are friends, and I am sure I’d like still more. But for their union to demand that all their rights and privileges should be protected in the current climate is lunacy.

The proposals appear on the face of them to be providing doctors with a very comfortable livelihood for years to come.

Sit back, folks, and take the medicine.

7 Responses to “Sit back and take the medicine”
  1. Jack Eason says:

    One other point you forgot to mention re Doctors Michael. When was the last time you had a home visit from your GP? Even if you have less than an hour to live, the system still demands you get to the surgery, after applying in blood for an appointment that is.


  2. If doctors are earning these enormous sums, can’t they save say £10k a year towards retirement? Would it hurt them?
    If we, the taxpayer, have to keep financing these bottomless pension funds – how much more tax will we have to pay?
    My pension was reduced to a whole salary one and then they closed it, we didn’t strike or shout – we looked at the figures and understood why.
    So doctors, peer over the top of your bloated wallets and wake up to the facts; you will still get a pension ten times higher than mine.


  3. They ought to climb down from those 4x4s and enter real life. That said, it’s important to remember not all docs are GPs and not all GPs run/partner practices.
    What really galls is what you say Mike, about the civil service difference in general. Where funded by taxes from the masses and especially the commercial economy, it should not be sitting atop of a pedestal of perceived greed carrying the “I’m all right Jack” banner.


  4. Let me put a contrary view here. Not that I have a particular brief for doctors but I do have a final salary pension. I worked for 17 years for local authorities followed by 13 years with BT, whose pension scheme was equivalent to the civil service one.

    In my council days I could have gone to work for a private employer for a considerably higher salary but a much poorer pension. But I regarded the two as a package, and my lower salary in work as a kind of saving for a more comfortable time in retirement.

    In my BT days, the company actually took a “pensions holiday” for several years because the fund was so flush with cash. I kept on paying in, of course. The current situation with pensions is actually a combination of Gordon Brown introducing a tax on pension fund income just after the Labour Party came to power in 1997, and the bankers so screwing the economy that returns on equities aren’t what they were.

    Pensions are deferred income. I’m pleased I’m one of the generation that were able to pay for and get a good income in retirement. I’m very much on the side of those younger than me who want that kind of security too.


  5. MeToo says:

    As of the moment, to help put things into perspective, 110,000.00 GBP = 170,181.56 USD. That would make it roughly the median average salary for a family practice physician in the US. Income is quite variable depending on state and the local economy. The US family practice physician rarely has an individual practice today but is most often part of a group of physicians. Why a group practice? Some obvious reasons are that they have to meet the payroll of various levels of ancillary personnel, rent for office space, malpractice insurance, supplies, etc. Does the British GP have the same operational costs or is the government paying them? If the government is paying operating costs, the British GP would seem to have a leg up on things already.


  6. I have an issue with doctors here in the U.S. It used to be that most people who entered the medical profession, such as doctors and nurses, did so because they wanted to help people, they wanted to be a healer. For those patients that couldn’t afford to pay the doctor’s fees, the doctor would work out a payment plan, or the doctor would accept chickens or the patient or family members would work off the bill.

    Many doctors today appear to go into the medical profession primarily for money, the patient being the secondary or last concern. Today, if a patient is not covered by health insurance or they’re underinsured and financially not well off, most doctors will refuse to see the patient. If a patient is covered only by Medicaid or Medicare, most doctors won’t even consider seeing these patients.

    Now it seems that all I hear about doctors is they believe the government is screwing them over because of regulation and how unfair it is the government is telling them how to run their business, how much they can charge Medicaid and Medicare patients for their services, and if people can’t afford medical care it’s not their problem, if the poor can’t afford medical care it’s because of the choices they made.

    There are many here in the U.S. who can’t afford healthcare and don’t get the healthcare they need because they have to choose between paying their mortgage or rent, utilities, etc., or paying for medical care.

    So, I have a hard time feeling much empathy for a profession who for the most part do very well financially and then whine about how tough things have become while the sick are suffering and dying because they’re too poor to seen by a doctor.


    • maximusandz says:

      I agree with you. I had worked “offiicially” since I was 15. Paid taxes and deductions to Social Security, etc. I dropped out of school at 17, but worked full time until I was 24.

      At 24 I started college and worked during breaks. I became pregnant and single during the first year. I had a choice between welfare and showing my son how to be proud.

      I received a Bachelor of Arts (4 year program) and a Master of Science (2 year program) and a 9 month pregnancy all in less than 6 years. I have also PAID off all of my student loans. I worked and never received welfare.

      I first became ill in 2004, but because I kept working and reduced my work week to 4 days in 2005, 3 days in 2006, and 2008; my social security disbursement is less than if I had quit working right away.

      When I finally lost my job due to health, I no longer had health insurance, and we came within 15 days of losing our home. A year later my husband obtained a job that provided health insurance.

      Also, I received a reduced amount due to poor record keeping by my primary doctor.


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