The British Medical Association (BMA) has threatened to ballot doctors in May on taking industrial action if the government does not change its stance on NHS pension reform.
The union warned last night it will open a ballot on 14 May asking doctors to withhold all but emergency treatment for 24 hours, in its first ballot for industrial action for 37 years.
If the strike goes ahead, doctors would go to work as normal, but would only provide emergency or urgent care and refuse to undertake duties that could be safely postponed, the BMA said.
"Decisions about what could safely be postponed would be based on the professional judgement of doctors locally who, with the support of the BMA, would aim to work with employers, so that as much advance notice can be given to patients as possible," the union said in a statement.
In hospitals, routine operations and non-urgent outpatient appointments would be postponed.
In GP practices, only patients in need of urgent attention would receive treatment.
A BMA survey in January revealed 84% of members rejected the government's proposed pension reforms, which include plans to increase employee contributions, push back retirement dates and move from final salary to career average arrangements.
On 28 March, members of the National Union of Teachers and the University College Union went on strike, while NHS workers who are members of Unite staged demonstrations against public sector pension reform.
Unite also opened a strike ballot on Wednesday for Ministry of Defence staff facing pension reform.
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