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Thousands of doctors prepare to protest over pensions

At least four in five NHS employers in secondary care have postponed some non-urgent cases ahead of today’s day of action, the BMA has confirmed.

As thousands of doctors prepare to protest about controversial changes to the NHS pension scheme by providing urgent and emergency care only, the association has restated its commitment to patient safety as an ‘absolute priority’.

Detailed planning with NHS managers that has been taking place since the June 21 date was agreed by the BMA council in May has meant non-urgent care could be postponed in advance and patients given as much notice as possible of any impact for them.

This planning has indicated that at least 80 per cent of secondary care organisations are postponing non-urgent care in advance.

Figures for the proportion of GP practices taking part in the action are still being estimated.

The BMA GPs committee has provided a template letter of notification for GPs to send to their PCOs that should be copied into inbox.gppractice@bma.org.uk to help the BMA’s overview of participation.

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Advertisements explaining the action to the public were also published in over 80 regional newspapers across the UK yesterday.

BMA council chairman Hamish Meldrum said: ‘We are not expecting members of the public to support the action, but we hope they can understand why doctors have been driven to this point – for the first time in 40 years.

‘Patient safety is our absolute priority. We have been clear throughout that any emergency care – or other care urgently needed by patients – will be provided. We are undertaking this action with extreme reluctance.’

Because the action is not a ‘strike’ as the term is normally understood, it will be difficult to provide exact figures on the numbers of doctors taking part in the action.

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Doctors are taking the first industrial action in almost 40 years because of their deep anger about the government proposals to change the NHS pension scheme that was renegotiated to make it sustainable for the future just four years ago.

The plans would see a new career average pension scheme for all doctors, increases to contribution levels, with some doctors having to pay 14.5 per cent of their salary by 2014, and an increase in the normal retirement age to 68.

Dr Meldrum added: ‘Doctors accept the need to play their part in improving public finances. We don’t expect better pensions or preferential treatment, just fair treatment.’

Keep up to date with the day of action and tell us what is happening in your area via the BMA live blog.

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