The BMA has ruled out strike action in hospitals in Scotland this winter following a ballot of Scottish hospital doctors.
A 45% turn out among consultants saw 67% voting in favour of action short of a strike; 49% voted for all out strike.
Sentiment was stronger for strike action among juniors, with 72% supporting it, but there was only a 29% turn out. Nine out of ten were in favour of industrial action short of a strike.
BMA Council concluded that the overall levels of the support in the ballots was not enough to mount effective action.
The ballot asked hospital doctors if they would be willing to take strike action with emergency only cover – a stronger form of action than that taken on 21 June. That UK-wide action was seen as a failure with low participation among doctors, and the BMA in England quickly resorting to further talks with the government rather than plan additional days of action.
Dr Brian Keighley, chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said: “It is clear from the ballot result that although we don’t have a clear overall mandate for strike action, doctors are angry about the way the Scottish government has handled plans to change NHS pensions.
“Doctors do not understand why, when the Scottish Government is so opposed to the pension reforms being led by the UK Government, they are implementing aspects of them in Scotland where they have the devolved authority to do something different, primarily on employee contributions.”
The ballot was a reaction to the government’s proposed changes to the NHS pension scheme. It includes significant hikes in employee contributions, a rise in the normal pension age – up to 68 – and the end of the final salary scheme for hospital doctors.
The Scottish government has devolved authority for some aspects of the NHS pension scheme in Scotland, primarily for employee contribution levels. But separate talks between the Scottish government and health unions failed to produce any alternative offer to that planned in England and Wales.
For Staff Grade and Associate Specialists there was a 41% turnout, with 67% voting in favour of action short of a strike, and 52% voting for all out strike. GPs were not balloted this time.
Keighley added: “Although we are not taking industrial action, we will continue to lobby and campaign against the unfairness of these pension changes and we will work with the other NHS unions to press for meaningful negotiations in Scotland.”
See the full results.
Read a blog on the topic.