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Doctors protest over pension reform

Doctors are to take industrial action for the first time in almost 40 years in protest at the Government's controversial pension reforms.

Non-urgent cases will be postponed on June 21 as part of disruption caused by the "reluctant" day of action.

The British Medical Association (BMA) announced the move after a ballot of over 100,000 doctors showed a clear majority in favour of protests on a high turnout of 50%.

Ministers were accused of pressing ahead with "totally unjustified" increases to pension contributions, and a later retirement age for doctors even though a deal on pensions was agreed four years ago.

The development followed a warning earlier this week of co-ordinated strikes by the two biggest teachers unions in England and Wales in the autumn term over pensions and other issues such as pay and workload.

A series of national strikes have already been held by public sector workers over the coalition Government's pension changes, with fresh action being threatened for next month.

The Government is now on a collision course with doctors, teachers, civil servants, lecturers and other public sector employees after failing to persuade millions of workers to accept the reforms.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: "We are taking this step very reluctantly, and would far prefer to negotiate for a fairer solution.

"But this clear mandate for action - on a very high turnout - reflects just how let down doctors feel by the Government's unwillingness to find a fairer approach to the latest pension changes and its refusal to acknowledge the major reforms of 2008 that made the NHS scheme sustainable in the long term.

"Non-urgent work will be postponed and, although this will be disruptive to the NHS, doctors will ensure patient safety is protected."

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