UK's GPs and consultants vote to take industrial action for first time since 1975
Doctors have voted in favour of taking industrial action over the Government's pension reforms, the British Medical Association announced today.
The British Medical Association said doctors had backed action after being balloted over the changes.
The BMA has ruled out a complete withdrawal of labour, but if action now goes ahead, doctors would not undertake duties that could safely be postponed.
The BMA Council will hold a special meeting to decide its next move following the ballot result.
Six separate ballots were held, for GPs, consultants, junior doctors, staff associates and specialist doctors and occupational and community health doctors.
There was a 50% turnout in the ballots, with doctors being asked if they were prepared to take part in a strike, or industrial action short of a strike.
GPs voted by 13,837 to 3,687 for action short of a strike (78% majority) and by 11,062 to 6,426 to strike.
Consultants backed action short of a strike by 15,733 to 2,938 (84% majority) and by 13,637 to 5,021 for strikes.
Junior doctors voted by 11,113 to 928 for action short of a strike (92% majority) and by 9,863 to 2,177 to strike.
Specialist doctors backed action other than strikes by 3,030 to 435 (87% majority) and by 2,644 to 807 for strikes.
Occupational medicine doctors rejected action short of a strike by 25 to 16 and voted by 27 to 14 against striking.
Community health doctors supported action short of a strike by 294 to 97 (75% majority) and by 235 to 155 for strikes.
The last time doctors took industrial action was in 1975, when consultants suspended goodwill activities and worked to contract over a contractual dispute, and junior doctors worked to a 40-hour week because of dissatisfaction with the progress of contract negotiations.
The BMA argues that higher paid NHS staff already pay proportionately more for their pensions than most other public sector workers, a disparity which it said increased in April when their contributions went up, and which is set to rise again.
By 2014, some doctors will see deductions of 14.5% from their pay for their pensions, compared with 7.35% for senior civil servants on similar salaries, to receive similar pensions, said the BMA.
Doctors currently at the start of their careers would be hardest hit, having to pay hundreds of thousands of pounds extra - double what they would have paid - in lifetime pensions contributions, according to the association.
Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, said the BMA Council should put patients at the centre of its decision-making.
"They know that any industrial action will impact on care and cause distress and disruption to patients and undermine trust and confidence in the medical profession.
"We know that doctors are anxious about changes to their pensions. But no-one wants to see patients dragged into the argument.
"Industrial action could potentially mean delays to treatment. It would be particularly distressing for patients and extremely worrying for staff who are dedicated to putting patients first.
"It's a tough decision for the BMA Council but they should do the right thing for patients.
"If they do decide to call doctors out on strike then the more notice employers get of this the more robust our contingency plans will be."