Doctors’ pensions

Recently, Nicola said this…

Wow doctors are selfish or stupid. The rising life expectancy and massive deficit means they need to work longer and get a reduction in pension.
£68,000 on top of probably huge savings isn’t too shabby, but they’re striking!

I really rather wish she hadn’t, because it lead to a huge amount of comments, some of which were nonsense and as such, I am now unable to sleep because people are wrong on the internet and I can’t just let that be.

I don’t really have a problem with the strikes. They’re not putting people at much risk and they have a right to strike if they want to. But I don’t think they should expect a great deal of public sympathy for their cause.

While Nicola quoted £68,000. The BBC News article I read put the figure at £58,000. But that is still a huge amount of money. To retire on! That is more money than I earn while I’m still working. That is more money than my mum earns having spent twenty years tirelessly working as a teacher at an inner city school – surely an equally noble profession?

Ashwin chipped in…

Seriously though, speak to other Doctors and Medical students, and find out just how hard and long (that’s what she said!) a Doctor works and then you’ll appreciate our perspective much more.

But I probably won’t. Why? Because we don’t live in a society where hard work equals more money. You want to know about hard work? Go to my friend Eric who works 60 hours at week scrubbing floors at McDonald’s for a pitance. I’m sure a lot of doctors do more hours than that. But with the average GP earning a six figure salary, do they do ten times more hours than that? Of course not, because that is more hours than exist.

Paul I think you’re grossly confusing Doctors with Footballers. Also, this may be news to you, but Doctors do have loans and mortgages to pay off!

Which is probably true, as doctors are probably the only people who can afford to get on the property ladder these days. The rest of us have to rent.

Moz adds some good points…

I think the difficulty in debates like this is the gross inequality that people see between salaries across the various sectors. At the end of the day there are people in each sector who work just as hard as each other and do very difficult jobs, but receive vastly different salaries/pensions. In the private sector (e.g. bankers) you get people earning obscene salaries doing non-specialist jobs that don’t even benefit society that much. In the health sector you have people also earning obscene salaries, but at least doing a highly-skilled job that greatly benefits society (I wouldn’t include dentists in this – how they demand the salaries they receive is beyond me). Whereas in academia you have people earning very little to do a very difficult highly-skilled job. As an academic, I don’t moan about not being paid enough (well not much at least). But tbh I would love to see other people who have easier jobs than me earning less than I do. Its selfish but it would make me feel a lot better and more valued. Overall I think there should be a salary/pension cap that applies to everyone including doctors. Afterall no one person can be *that* much value to society.

But this just reinforces the point that you’re not paid in proportion to how much work you do, it’s how much value you are to society. In Moz’s case, that isn’t that much value. Not because Moz doesn’t do important stuff, he does. But because it would be fairly easy to replace him, because lots of people would like an academic research drop, which drives wages down.

But the important point here is that we live in a free market economy where you enjoy a choice of careers. If you don’t think you’re getting a fair deal, go do something else. If people vote with their feet, the government will be forced to offer higher wages. But actually almost nobody does, because people are actually still quite happy with the sweet deal they get as a doctor, so the government can cut their pensions.

No they are different points. How about going to a cornershop and buy a packet of sweets worth 50p and offer 45p. It’s only 5p difference. But you’ll probably be told to bugger off. Principles at stake

No, there isn’t a principle here. If everyone turned round and said “I’m only paying 45p” any half intelligent businessman would drop their prices. Similarly, if they were constantly selling out at 50p, they would put their prices up to 55p. That is how supply and demand works.

If doctors aren’t happy with their pay they need to vote with their feet – don’t work for the NHS (you can practice privately in the UK), go work in a different country (you have the right to work in any other EU country and as a doctor will get a visa for almost any other country too) or change career entirely (why not become a banker, for example).

In the IT industry we offer some really high wages (though not as high as doctors, I might add) because you simply can’t get the staff. They’re like gold dust, there just aren’t enough of them. That drives up wages. We can get the doctors (say what you want about the shortage, we still have a world class healthcare system and the government is so confident in our ability to retain them it’s even slashing pensions), but if there is some point where we can’t, we will have to start offering more money and benefits.

Strikers always make out they are the victim. But you’re never a victim in the free market unless you choose to be.



Don't have time to check my blog? Get a weekly email with all the new posts. This is my personal blog, so obviously it is 100% spam free.


Tags: , , ,

This entry was posted on Friday, June 1st, 2012 at 12:46 pm and is filed under Religion & Politics, Thoughts. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. Both comments and pings are currently closed.