More NHS ops could be postponed as door remains open for further strike action

BMA: quarter of non-urgent cases delayed by industrial action this week

More NHS operations and tests could be postponed if doctors’ leaders decide to take further industrial action.

Yesterday members of the British Medical Association (BMA) went on strike for the first time in four decades over pensions.

And next week BMA leaders are to discuss if further action should be taken, in spite of reports that far fewer doctors took part in this week’s strike than they had anticipated.

Doctors are angry that they are being asked to work longer and contribute more to their pensions and claim that they will have to pay up to twice as much as civil servants on the same pay for the same pension.

Some estimates suggest that just 11,500 of England’s 150,000 doctors took industrial action yesterday, although the BMA said such approximations should be treated with caution.

Nevertheless, the union holds its annual conference next week and if members demonstrate an appetite for further action to be taken it is feared that more operations could be postponed and GP surgeries only see urgent cases.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said that he believes a quarter of non-urgent cases were postponed and a third of GP surgeries took some form of action this week.

He said: "Our intention has not been to maximise the impact on patients, but to communicate the scale of doctors’ anger and to encourage the government back to the table. Doctors have sent a strong message that a fairer approach must be found."

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