Minister Nicola Sturgeon says 60% of Scots GP surgeries hit by strike

  • 21 June 2012
  • From the section Scotland

About 60% of GP surgeries in Scotland have been affected to some degree by a day of industrial action being carried out by doctors.

The statistic was revealed at Holyrood by Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon.

She added that 3,200 outpatient appointments and 450 inpatient and day cases had also been cancelled due to the dispute over pensions.

Ms Sturgeon gave the figures during First Minister's Questions, where she was deputising for Alex Salmond.

Patients have been told to turn up for appointments as normal unless they have been advised otherwise by their clinic.

Doctors across the UK are taking part in the first industrial action in 37 years, over plans to change doctors' pensions so they are based on their average earnings rather than their final salary.

The proposals would also see doctors working until the age of 68 and paying higher contributions.

Despite the industrial action, accident and emergency departments and maternity services will run as normal, and tests for critical conditions such as cancer will still be available.

Both the UK government and the BMA have stressed that patients should seek medical help if they need it.

In response to a question by Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson, Ms Sturgeon told the Holyrood chamber: "I am advised that approximately 3,200 outpatient appointments and around 450 inpatient day cases have been cancelled.

"I should say patients have been advised that all appointments will be rescheduled as soon as possible.

"I also understand that approximately 60% of GP practices are affected by some extent."

Doctors said they were taking the industrial action because the UK government had reneged on a pensions deal agreed in 2008.

However, Jackson Carlaw, the Scottish Conservatives' health spokesman, said that agreement had been reached "quite some time ago".

He said those pension arrangements would cost £66.5bn.

"The world has changed and I'm afraid those sorts of arrangements are no longer affordable or sustainable," he said.

Mr Carlaw said that under the proposals, doctors entering the scheme in 2015 would have a pension of £68,000 a year.

He added: "That is a fair prospect and is one which will also see other workers in the National Health Service receive a more realistic and sustainable pension."

GP Dr Alan McDevitt, the chairman of BMA Scotland's general practitioners committee, told BBC Radio Scotland's Good Morning Scotland programme that he did not expect sympathy from the public over the value of doctor's pensions.

But he added: "This is actually about the deal that the government made with us in 2008, which made our pensions fair and affordable."

He said the pensions would have an annual surplus of at least £2bn for at least the next five years.

"So this isn't about affordability, because that was already done," he added.

"This is about the government imposing a whole raft of changes on our pensions without discussion, without being prepared to discuss any aspects of it, and just saying: 'You'll take it and that's how it's going to be'.

"And since they won't talk, we've been forced into taking industrial action."

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