The Knife didn’t strike on Thursday, but some colleagues did, in a wimpy sort of way, and I have every respect for them. I didn’t because I was too busy, as much as anything else. I’ll probably post on the background of the strike elsewhere, particularly about the mistake of lumping the hospital doctors in with the GP’s , but the title of this post is the Daily Mail/Lansley view in a nutshell, and frankly, medics are not used to being the whipping boys for the increasingly mob-orientated British public. It hurts a bit.
However, there is a nice current parallel, which is as good as an analogy as anything else. It goes like this.
The doctors are Germany, and the public sector newbies of the last ten years, up by an astonishing 50% over the Brown Terror, are the unfunded and unproductive rest of Europe, particularly the PIGS.
The doctors’ pension fund has been well managed, and is not in deficit. This is no accident. We restructured, voluntarily, in 2008, sensibly increasing our contributions, discussing lump sums, timing of retirement, final salary schemes etc. We, like Germany, behaved prudently, accepting a financial hit, noticeable in our monthly pay packets with national insurance increases. Like Germany, we recognised a difficult financial climate – and future – and planned accordingly. This was not done in secret, and we went along with the principle of pension reform for the greater good. Our pay has been frozen for more than two years – we accepted this too. For most of us, our take home pay now is the same as 5 years ago. We pay a fortune in income tax.
However the rest of the public sector (equivalent to the Eurozone) by and large did not do this, rejecting sensible contingency plans, and continuing to expand recklessly (under Brown, hoping for more Labour voters) in a way that was affordable neither in immediate salary and on-costs, nor in future pension requirements.
Furthermore, many of these new employees, like much of Europe, offer nothing of real value to the system, or the taxpayer. In a theme often explored by The Knife, in the NHS alone, huge cuts could be made in my view – and that of many doctors – without jeapordising care in any significant way. True, these useless employees would then be on the dole, but the NHS would be better off. Efficient systems are always better. I have no doubt that other areas of the public sector are the same.
Sadly for us medics, we’re all linked together by our public sector status (the Eurozone), and so like the whining ungrateful Greeks and Spaniards the unfunded parts of the public sector slag us off when we object to our prudent planning and pension funds being raided to pay for feckless, ill-managed and unnecessary parts of the system. Hence the vitriol and aggression in the Mail, the Independent etc.
Typically, just as a Greek retiring at 57 will whine that a German (retiring at 67) has a nice BMW, so our unfunded public sector brethren whine and rage about our “colossal” pensions of about £60,000. Nice money, but we earned it. And, dare I say, we gave a great deal more than you did back to the taxpayer, physically, mentally and financially throughout our working lives.
Doctors, you see, actually make people better some of the time.
To his lasting shame, Andrew Lansley (noted expenses cheat with a rich second wife) positively encourages the doctor bashing and the rubbish about how rich we allegedly are. He studiously avoids discussing the recent pension reforms already undertaken, and the fact that we are being singled out, compared to his chums in the Civil Service, as just one example. Already the vindictiveness is kicking in.
So there it is, the hated doctors are Germany, the expanded public sector contains Greece, Italy, Spain, Portugal, France etc. They want us to pay for their pensions, because we’ve got the money. We earned the money though, and managed it properly, and they hate us for that too. The masters of the Eurozone, like Barroso, Hollande and so on take pot shots at us to cover up for their mistakes and lack of foresight. They are the Gordon Browns and Andrew Lansleys.
There is one other obvious comparison – when a dishonest overseer sees a pension pot he can get at, he plunders it. Just as the obese crooked Czech Robert Maxwell fleeced the Mirror pensioners, just as Gordon Brown destroyed British pension funds to pay for his deranged megalomaniac schemes, Lansley has seen the medics’ pension pot and wants it. I don’t exempt Dave and the rest of them from the blame either, and however cocky they are about this now, they will rue the day, unless they come back to negotiate.
And people wonder why the doctors are unhappy?