GP reassures patients as doctors to join strike
ROUTINE medical appointments and operations will be cancelled when doctors in Bristol join a national strike over pensions.
But a city GP has reassured patients that urgent cases will still be dealt with – and says most people will not notice any difference during the one-day action next month.
The British Medical Association announced yesterday that its members had voted in favour of strikes on June 21 – the first industrial action by doctors since 1975.
But doctors will continue to see patients who need emergency and urgent care while postponing any non-urgent cases during the 24 hours of action.
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The body which represents doctors said that the decision has been taken reluctantly because doctors feel the Government is unwilling to take a fairer approach to pension changes.
Tom Frewin, of the Clifton Village Practice, said that the nature of general practice would mean that most patients will still be seen by their GPs, although those expecting to attend hospital for planned procedures will be affected.
Hospital managers in the city say they will be working with BMA representatives over the coming weeks to ensure that patients only suffer the minimum of disruption.
Dr Frewin said: "I think the average member of the public won't notice anything and the average doctor won't. Hospitals more so – they have more routine patients and routine theatre lists. In general practice, you check a patient to check they are not urgent and once you have seen them, to make them wait a day for a script would be churlish."
He added that he was taking action for the future of the NHS.
GP Simon Bradley, of Concorde Medical Centre and chairman of the Avon Local Medical Committee, which represents doctors in the area, said that doctors will always put patients first and will make sure people do not suffer "serious or significant harm".
"Doctors and GPs have been betrayed by the Government," he said.
"We came to an agreement four years ago about pensions that made the scheme affordable for the next 20 years."
The average salaried GP earns £88,920 a year and GPs currently contribute up to 8.5 per cent of their salary to their pension.
But under the moves doctors will contribute up to 14.5 per cent, which Dr Bradley said was considerably higher than the contributions made by MPs and civil servants.
"The problem I have and the problem my colleagues share is how we can take action and make the Government listen without harming patients," he said. "I will be going into work and ready to deal with any urgent cases or emergencies."
A spokesman for North Bristol NHS Trust, which runs Frenchay and Southmead hospitals, said: "We have robust contingency plans in place and will be working with local representatives over the coming weeks to ensure disruption is kept to a minimum for our patients.
"Emergency care will not be affected and the industrial action will have no impact on North Bristol's ability to function as a major trauma centre for the area."
The city centre hospital trust, UH Bristol, said there would be contingency plans.
A Weston Area Health Trust spokeswoman said: "We will be working closely with our local BMA representatives to understand more fully the implications of this decision."