HEALTH Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has come under fire from one of Scotland's leading GPs over the Scottish Government's "complicity" with Westminster over controversial NHS pensions reforms.

Dr Dean Marshall, outgoing chairman of the BMA's Scottish General Practitioners Committee, said doctors north of the Border had been let down by Holyrood's inaction on the issue.

His comments came after Ms Sturgeon promised delegates gathered at the Bearmore Hotel in Clydebank yesterday that she would hold "open-minded" talks next week in a bid to find an alternative to the UK Department of Health's (DoH) plans, which have so incensed medics that the BMA is poised to ballot its members on industrial action for the first time in 40 years.

"It is galling to have a Government that's willing to cut the top rate of tax while raiding public sector pensions," said Ms Sturgeon, adding that she understood doctors anger over the proposed changes to their pension scheme.

"We are willing and keen to talk to see if we can come up with a better way and to that end we are holding discussions next week, which I will be personally attending, and we invite BMA members to come along with a very open mind and in a spirit of partnership – because partnership is the way we do things in the Scottish Government.

"We can't have the complete autonomy we would like over this but hopefully we can come up with a solution that is better than that put forward by the Coalition Government."

Under the DoH plans, doctors' pension contributions would increase immediately by up to 2.4%, with continued increases over the next two years. It also wants to raise the retirement age to 68 and end the final salary scheme for hospital doctors. GPs already have a career average scheme.

Although the DoH proposals are intended to apply to NHS workers throughout the UK, Scotland has its own devolved NHS pension scheme which is overseen by the Scottish Public Pensions Authority. However, if the Scottish Government decided to break with the reforms it is likely Holyrood would have to pick up the tab for any shortfall.

Dr Marshall said: "Is it fair for NHS staff to be taxed for the Government's failures to properly regulate the banking sector? And while the Scottish Government argues it does not agree with these plans it appears to be going along with the UK Government and is therefore complicit in taxing public-sector workers for the failures of the private sector.

"Scottish ministers could seek to do something different and I urge them again to find that solution – not just invite us to new talks"

Dr Marshall said doctors were unhappy that pension reforms were being "foisted" on them just four years after they agreed substantial changes to their package.

He added: "We agreed to tiered contributions where higher earners contributed more than lower paid workers. We agreed to the increased retirement age of 65 and we agreed to a cap on employer contributions so that the taxpayer would not pay for any future shortfall in the scheme. These changes worked and the NHS Pension Scheme is in surplus to the Treasury to the tune of £2 billion, and this is projected to continue into the future.

In response to the criticism, a Scottish Government spokesman said: "We are committed to public sector pensions which are affordable, sustainable and fair. We are taking a different approach and the new NHS scheme in Scotland will reflect the unique nature of the workforce."