Nine unions accuse minister of turning his back on health workers


Health unions have accused Andrew Lansley of turning his back on NHS workers.

The Health Minister met with representatives from nine unions on Thursday and though he said he would listen to and acknowledge their views, he offered no assurances that anything would change.

GMB national officer Rehana Azam said: “The meeting with Andrew Lansley was all PR spin and no substance. The harsh reality is that he is simply not listening to staff fears about the future of their pension schemes. He is ignoring the very strong arguments we made and turning his back on the anger and frustration felt by NHS staff.”

The so-called Staff Side group of unions, consisting of Society of Chiropodists and Podiatrists (SCP), Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), Society of Radiographers (SOR), Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, Managers in Partnership (MiP), RCM, the professional body for occupational therapists (BAOT), UNISON and Unite, warned Lansley unless he took action now, the NHS would see the biggest strike in its history.

In a joint statement, they said: “The meeting with Andrew Lansley was disappointing. Despite us putting forward very strong arguments why the proposed changes to the NHS Pension Scheme are unnecessary and unfair and that the timescale for talks is unrealistic and undeliverable, the minister offered us no assurances that anything would change.

“In 2008 we negotiated a new scheme which ensured security in retirement for staff, as well as being affordable and sustainable for the future. This agreement is now being torn up. We have real concerns that NHS staff fears about the future of their pension scheme are not being heard and that staff trust and confidence in the scheme is being undermined by the proposed changes.

“NHS staff feel angry, frustrated and let down by the proposals. Barely three years ago they signed up to a new pension scheme that was designed to ensure it was affordable and future proof.

“Earlier this year, in a letter to Danny Alexander, Chief Secretary to the Treasury, Andrew Lansley described the pension proposals as inappropriate and unrealistic. We had hoped that the Minister’s concerns would be reflected in our discussions on Wednesday, but sadly this did not happen.

“We remain willing and committed to continue negotiations at sectoral level and want to make progress in the talks to head off strike action in the NHS, but the minister must start listening and act quickly.”

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