GPs pension row is hard to swallow

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The British Medical Association claims it has no choice but to take “industrial action” to support its members’ pensions and that patients will not suffer, while ignoring certain facts.

First, GPs are not National Health Service employees; they are independent private contractors, and their inclusion at all in the NHS pension scheme is an anomalous privilege which many feel should never have been granted.

Second, they ignore the large pay increases given by the last government, with UK doctors now paid more than anywhere worldwide except the United States.

Third, the 2008 reforms, despite now giving a positive cashflow of £2 billion per annum, disguise the fact that NHS pensions remain a very generous Ponzi scheme, with current contributions paying current pensions, rather than building a true pension fund from which to pay future liabilities (as almost all other private contractors and industrial firms now have to do).

GPs also boast that in 2008 they agreed to an increase in the normal retirement age to 65! Most industry has always retired at 65, and demography mandates this will have to increase still further in the next few decades.

Finally, while I disagree profoundly with the BMA, no tears will be shed for MPs whose pensions are even more platinum-plated and who thereby lost the moral authority to demand reductions in others’.

John Birkett, via email

Run the rule over the rule-enforcers

As summer finally approaches, and with the Jubilee and Olympics nearly upon us, I would appreciate the opportunity to let your readers know about a new opportunity for community volunteers who find that regulators and rule enforcers are making their lives difficult.

The Volunteer Events theme on the Focus on Enforcement website presents a golden chance for ordinary people to speak out against uncaring officialdom, but also to give credit where credit is due if someone has been really helpful.

Volunteers are the unsung heroes of our communities. But dealing with the way rules are enforced can sometimes be more of a problem than the red tape itself – no-one volunteers to be a bureaucrat.

The Government wants anyone involved in volunteering – from a jumble sale, to organising a Jubilee street party, to a three-peaks challenge – to feed in their experiences, good and bad, of dealing with local authorities and other regulators as part of the Focus on Enforcement campaign.

Whether it’s an inspection by someone who won’t listen or having to fill in the same form twice – we want to hear about it.

We know there are good regulators out there, so we also want you to tell us on the website about the heroes – people who give really good guidance and help your event to happen well and safely.

So I urge you to go to the Focus on Enforcement website and let us know your views so that we can take action. This is your chance to make a real difference to the way regulations are enforced.

Mark Prisk, Business and Enterprise Minister, via email

Yours sincerely, unimpressed

WE spend £400,000 on the design of an Olympic logo that looks like a plate of broken biscuits.

The BBC introduces a new comedy sitcom and after watching it, I’ve had more fun with toothache.

An art gallery charges £8 a ticket to view an exhibition of empty picture frames.

Tracy Emin is given a professorship at the Royal Academy.

The emperor’s new clothes have been freshly ironed.

Give me that great artist Rolf Harris anytime. At least he can’t sing!

Pete Hanslip, via email