As it happened: Doctors take action

Key Points

  • The BMA estimates four out of five hospitals have cancelled some care procedures, as doctors take part in a day of industrial action to protest against proposed changes to their pensions.
  • Figures from individual NHS trusts suggest that only about 10% of their hospitals' daily procedures are affected.
  • Health Secretary Andrew Lansley says that "penalising patients" serves no purpose whatsoever.

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    Hello and welcome to our live page covering the industrial action being taken by doctors across the UK. The extent of disruption today is not yet clear. The NHS is advising patients who need help in an emergency to use the service as they normally would. We'll bring you all the news and analysis from the day as it unfolds.


    Appointments for urgent tests, such as for cancer, are expected to go ahead as planned. Accident and emergency units will remain open, while mothers in labour will be able to go to maternity departments. But routine appointments and operations could be affected, the BMA has warned.


    BBC correspondent Dominic Hughes is at Barnsley Hospital, where he says they've had to cancel or postpone eight operations out of 52. The hospital has also postponed around 20% of outpatient appointments. The medical director says the industrial action should have a fairly low impact on patients.


    Dr Prit Bittar, a GP in his 50s and a former member of the BMA's General Practitioners Committee, tells BBC Radio Berkshire that he's striking "with great reluctance... we've been driven to this by a government which has refused to negotiate with us".


    Doctor Paul Cundy, a GP who has a surgery in Wimbledon, told the Today programme earlier that he is taking industrial action "very reluctantly". He said he "understands that patients feel they are caught in the middle of this".


    BBC health correspondent Nick Triggle says: "The scale of the disruption to patients will depend on just how militant doctors are. Ahead of the day of action, plenty of doctors said they would be supporting it but would not be turning patients away even for routine appointments. This has meant that some NHS trusts have cancelled only a very small proportion of bookings in advance."


    Our correspondents across the UK will be aiming to help us build up a picture during the day of how much affect the industrial action has been having. BBC Radio Oxford is first off the mark with some figures outlining the situation around its region. In Oxfordshire itself, 29 GP practices are taking action, 49 are not and six did not reply.

    In Buckinghamshire, nine are, 48 are not, in Wiltshire the split is 20/38 and in Swindon we've learned that 27 are taking action but have yet to get a definitive figure on how many are not.


    Trevor Pickersgill, a consultant neurologist at the University Hospital of Wales in Cardiff, tells BBC News viewers that doctors are sorry for any inconvenience. "Patients are still our first priority," he says, but explains that this is the first time in nearly 40 years that doctors have felt this strongly about changes to their pay and conditions. There have been cancellations for elective surgery such as knee and hip replacements at the university hospital and Dr Pickersgill warns this could be the "first day" of further industrial action.


    So do you understand what today's action is about? Doctors are angry that the government is changing their pension scheme just four years after a new deal was reached - but the government, in turn, insists it is not sustainable. The British Medical Association - the doctors' trade union - has argued that contributions are going up too much and that asking doctors to work until they are 68 is wrong and could harm patient care. Our Q&A explains the issues on both sides.


    The last time doctors took industrial action was in the mid 1970s when consultants and junior doctors decided to withdraw non-emergency services, the BBC's Neil Bowdler writes. The consultants worked to rule and suspended all "goodwill activities" between January and April of 1975 in protest against proposed new contracts which they said would force them to abandon private practice.


    Another snapshot on how one hospital is affected, this time the Royal Berkshire hospital in Reading.

    It says that no operations have been cancelled, which means 71 due to take place there today will go ahead, as well as a further 61 surgical procedures in "satellite locations". It adds that 2,000 outpatient appointments are going ahead as normal but there are three clinics which are slightly affected with a handful of appointments cancelled.

    The Trust says it employs just under 600 doctors, of which approximately 15 are taking industrial action.


    On the BBC News channel, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley has suggested that the British Medical Association is isolated: "The BMA are out on their own.

    "I hear them saying 'we want to go back to 2008' like nothing had happened since 2008. Like we're not facing up to a financial deficit and a need to reduce the deficit over the coming years and put the public finances on a sustainable basis."


    Figures in from BBC Radio Northamptonshire: it has learned that 78% of GPs' surgeries in the county are expecting to offer a normal or near-normal service today.

    1007: Anthony in Worcester

    texts: What makes doctors think they are immune from economic cutbacks? There is already an obscene difference between their pay and other NHS staff. They are greedy and selfìsh.


    BBC Radio Stoke has learned that Heartlands Hospital Birmingham rearranged 21 "elective appointments" and just over 200 outpatient appointments. So far two doctors at the hospital have informed management they will not be working today.

    J Porter, Nottingham.

    texts: I totally support the doctors action, this is about fairness and people being able to plan their futures without the constant changes to terms & conditions.


    Some data from Queen Elizabeth Hospital, in Birmingham: 48 out of 650 doctors said they were planning to take strike action. This has led to the cancellation of three elective procedures - the hospital says it carries out an average of 100 operations or procedures per day. In addition, 15 day case surgery appointments have been cancelled (200 take place each day), and 38 outpatient appointments called off (2,000 is the number seen on a typical day).

    Dr Hodges from Stockton-On-Tees

    emails: Andrew Lansley is the one isolated and out of touch. Pension contributions are not a mechanism with which to repay the deficit; they are contributions made as a contract between employer and employee in the public service which guarentees a return near equal to what is contributed. It is not a pot of money to be raided when times are hard by a government lacking ideas, that is what happened with private pensions and that is why they are now so poor compared to the public sector.

    Subhajit Banerjee

    tweets: At GP surgery waiting for doc on the day of doctors strike. Mixed feelings.


    All patients whose appointments have been rescheduled by hospitals in Wolverhampton have been notified and been offered alternative times, BBC Radio Stoke understands. Meanwhile, 231 out of 236 GP practices across Wolverhampton, Walsall, Dudley and Sandwell have confirmed that they will be open.

    Holly & Hydrangea ‏

    tweets: 9 years training and 8 more to go,exams, courses -my husband is at work today and deserves a proper pension @BBC_HaveYourSay #doctorsstrike


    So after years of planning, you plan to open a new hospital on Midsummer's Day. What could possibly go wrong?

    Despite the background of the industrial action taking place around the UK, bosses at the all-new South West Acute Hospital, near Enniskillen, have gone ahead with their grand opening this morning. It is already celebrating its first new arrival in the maternity unit - a baby boy for patient Lisa McGuinness.

    Gary Woodsford from Basingstoke

    emails: To all people who believe that Drs are greedy because we are striking - please READ the information first as you couldn't be further from the truth - we aren't asking for more money we are asking to be treated the same as anyone else in the public sector!! Why should we pay more into a pension scheme than an MP? why should we work for longer than a Civil Servant? Surely as we are all Government employees we should all undergo the SAME increases in age and pension contributions?


    Patients sympathise with their doctors, Dr Rob Barnett from Liverpool Local Medical Committee tells BBC Radio Merseyside. About half of all GP practices in Liverpool are taking some form of action today, but no GPs are away from work: they will see patients in need of urgent medical attention, Dr Barnett says. Nonetheless, his surgery is "uncannily quiet".

    Jamie Read

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay seems to be lots of coverage of GP action. As junior doctors we are providing care in hospital but support #bmaaction.

    Kieran Houston

    tweets: @bbc_haveyoursay 4 the record, Mr. Lansley, I support the #BMA.1st industrial action in 40yrs, hardly a decision taken lightly.#outoftouch.

    Mark Catterall from Poole

    emails: I've had an operation cancelled I should have been having it today and not it looks like it will be August at the earliest, I know there are issues in the NHS but the Doctors striking over pay is disingenuous. They have a bulletproof final salary pension that anyone in the private sector would like to have half of. I think they live in a bubble and really need to look at the bigger picture.


    In Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland, 24 out of the 148 GP practices are taking industrial action, BBC Radio Leicester learns.

    N A Butt from Glasgow

    texts: I'm a doctor with six years graduate degree and eight years postgraduate experience, two specialisations and I earn 18 quid an hour! What makes them think that they can cut over 14% in in pensions? And will anybody feel it safe that I operate upon human lives when I'm 68! This what new changes mean!


    Neither queues nor picket lines are in evidence at the Royal Liverpool University Hospital, where administrators say the impact is "minimal". One patient says her doctor even met her in reception and saw her early.

    Matt from London

    emails: I'm a junior hospital doctor on strike today. Am I at home with my feet up watching daytime television? Well I'm at my place at work, where we have been advised we need to be, not seeing my routine outpatients (who I have rescheduled so that I actually see them on other days either this or next week) and actually studying for yet another compulsory postgraduate exam.

    Alan King from Hampshire.

    texts: Dr Meldrum and the BMA put a very poor case for the medical profession's position. As a GP, I am as disgruntled as anyone about the unfairness of these pension changes coming on after the 2008 deal and the Government's assurances at the time. However I want nothing to do with this ill-judged action for which there is no public support. As usual, the BMA has failed in the PR department.

    Jeff Foster from Warwickshire

    emails: I wrote on your website two days ago after having a shift where once again as doctors we were abused by the public and then mocked for our frustrations over pensions. As doctors we train for a minimum of 10 years to reach our speciality , why shouldn't we be entitled to a half decent salary and pension when we spend our days trying to stop people dying?


    "It's not fair," Dr Laurence Buckman, the head of the GP committee from the BMA says on the BBC News channel. The NHS pensions scheme is already well funded, he says, accusing ministers of reneging on their predecessors' deal which was struck in 2008. "It's that frustration and the unfairness of having to pay more when there's already enough in the scheme," he says. "I've never taken industrial action; I never want to again."

    Caroline McColl from Scotland

    emails: I am a student nurse, soon to graduate in August. In this time of austerity when most people are struggling to survive financially, I think the medical profession are being insensitive and greedy.

    Sven Putnis from London

    emails: I work in a central London teaching hospital. All doctors have come into work today so emergency cover is more than adequate. Depending on required cover, many will then leave to strike. Most elective clinics and operating lists have been cancelled, both of which will lengthen waiting times.


    Across Hampshire, Southampton and Portsmouth, 29 GP surgeries out of 225 are affected by industrial action today, according to the press office at NHS Portsmouth.

    Dr Rainer Klocke from Dudley, West Midlands

    emails: The numbers of participation into industrial action despite an overwhelming vote for it in the ballot, demonstrate how concerned our profession is to minimize risk and inconvenience to patients ... and after nearly 40 years since the last time it happened - how unrehearsed we are for this action. However, I believe that we have not been left with any alternative to this step.

    S Forbat from Moray

    texts: I am at work today but not getting paid. I have spent six years at university and many years since doing postgraduate exams to achieve my consultant job. I now work on a one in four rota on call every fourth weekend I'd like to know why this does not warrant respect and fair treatment.


    "A lot of our patients are being seen as normal," Barnsley Hospital director of human resources Hilary Brearley tells the BBC News channel. She calculates that 20% of outpatient appointments have been rearranged. Eight operations have been moved; some were brought forward. Less than half of the doctors at the hospital have chosen to take action, but their colleagues respect their right to protest, she says.

    Chris Platt from Cambridge

    emails: As a medical student, I fully support today's industrial action. Pension contributions should be comparable across the public sector. Treatment like this will only encourage our best doctors to emigrate - is that in the best interest of the public?

    Dr Nicholas Lelos from London

    emails: I am a doctor taking part in the strike, not to disadvantage or inconvenience patients but just for what is right for my profession. I find Mr Lansley's comments disingenuous about doctors contributions not being sufficient before and the pension fund not being sustainable, as it was renegotiated in 2008 just to counter those problems.


    Wondering how services are being affected in Wales? BBC Wales has got a statement from each of the seven local health boards as part of its comprehensive coverage of the industrial action.

    Dr A. Reid from Glasgow

    emails: The pressure on doctors is increasing inexorably and this is the last straw. We work extremely hard but to be asked to do this until the age of 68, while we have a pension fund which is in surplus, is simply unfair.


    "Wowsers." That was how one BBC Scotland viewer responded when they stumbled upon a doctor's payslip that had been mislaid in a library. "If doctors aren't happy with their pay and pensions they should find another job," said another. These points were put to Maeve McPhillips, a paediatric radiologist in Edinburgh, on the BBC News channel. "I'm not sure that we've lost public support," she responded, adding that people would understand why doctors had decided to take action.

    Nigel White

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay Many people, soldiers, firemen, police, risk their lives for a lot less than doctors, don't strike, or get huge pensions!

    C.Munro from Aberdeen

    emails: It angers me as a junior doctor that people feel we are being disingenuous. The only people playing that role are the government and particularly Mr Lansley. Pension contributions should not be a way of topping up the treasury's income. Yes we earn more than average, but there are many reasons for that and this should not be a race to the bottom. If we believe in fairness as a principle then surely those on relatively higher incomes are entitled to that fairness just as much as everyone?


    The BMA is guilty of "putting cash before care" today, part-time hospital doctor and Conservative MP Dan Poulter has said. The doctors' pension scheme is not sustainable, he told the BBC News channel, explaining why he resigned from the BMA. "If doctors want to receive a £68,000 pension, they've got to pay for it." Being a doctor is a "vocational calling; it's about putting patients first," he says.

    Alistair Brookes from Warwickshire

    emails: I am a doctor working today as I am not in the BMA. The main reason behind this action is not more pay but to ensure all public sector workers are treated the same - same contributions from salary, same retirement age etc. The media has not reported on senior civil servants, some whom have non-contributory pensions and has not highlighted the relative percentage of slaries that different public sector workers have to pay.

    1203: Breaking News

    At the halfway point of the 24-hour industrial action, the British Medical Association estimates that four out of five hospitals have had to cancel care, and one in three GP practices are taking part in the action.

    But BBC health correspondent Nick Triggle says reports from individual areas suggest the scale of the disruption in these places is being kept to a minimum, with a number of hospitals reporting less than 10% of bookings are affected.


    Doctors' wages are modest in comparison to those of pop stars and footballers, says Christopher Ivans, a patient at University Hospital in Cardiff, whose appointment went ahead as planned today. He told the BBC News channel he supported the doctors "100%".

    Dr Mike Homer-Ward from Portsmouth

    emails: I am a senior consultant and am supporting the action which sadly is only necessary due to the failure of the government to negotiate fairly on this matter. The reality is that this action is about fairness and morality not money.


    BBC health correspondent Jane Hughes says: "At the Temple Fortune group practice in North London, four of the five GPs who work there are on strike. There's a steady trickle of patients coming through the doors, but staff say it's much quieter than usual. Most routine appointments have been cancelled, but anyone who feels they need to see a doctor today is being treated.

    "The doctors here all feel the same - that patients come first, and that taking industrial action goes against all their instincts. But for four of them, the feeling that the government was being unfair and unjust in imposing new pensions conditions was stronger. They felt they had to make a stand."


    Jane Hughes has also been speaking to patients at the Temple Fortune practice and reports that their feelings are mixed. She says: "Some have seen their own pensions reduced and feel sympathy, but others say doctors hold positions of trust and should continue treating patients."

    Karen King

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay Oncology appointment cancelled. Call themselves a caring profession disgraceful behaviour should be ashamed of themselves.


    The changes to pensions are being "imposed", Lewis Morrison, a geriatrician in Edinburgh, argues on the BBC News channel. "Either the Scottish government or the UK government should negotiate with doctors," he says. "They claim they've negotiated this, but they haven't."

    G.Burnhill from Derby

    emails: I am at work today because I am not a member of the BMA but I think people need to be realistic about how hard doctors work and for how long. I know a plethora of people who get paid more than I do and for fewer hours, having spent less time studying.

    Matt from Kent

    emails: As a GP, I am very concerned that the public may misinterpret this strike action. The strike is almost entirely symbolic. But what is it symbolic of? It's symbolic of doctors saying this "Treat us like this and we will LEAVE". Not a single day's action, but a catastrophic loss of our brightest and best from the NHS to the private sector or abroad.


    Getting a full picture of the number of operations cancelled and appointments postponed is difficult, writes the Guardian newspaper. "The Department of Health has asked NHS trusts not to reveal details to the media," it reports.


    The BBC's Nick Triggle understands that the Department of Health is collating the figures from individual NHS trusts and expects to release official information about the extent of the disruption late this afternoon.

    N Silvey from Warwickshire

    emails: I am a junior doctor, a member of the BMA and taking industrial action today. Today I have come into work and have seen all of my inpatients and urgent cases on the day unit. Several patients stated their surprise that I was seeing them, we are still putting their care first today. The government is being utterly unfair in their claims about our pay and pension.


    A sharp-eyed snapper from the Press Association spotted this rather neat juxtaposition of signs outside a health centre in Sheffield.

    Signs outside a health centre in Sheffield
    Martin McCloskey from Derry N Ireland

    emails: I have been a doctor for 32 years and never even contemplated any such action until now. Why now? The deal four years ago delivered everything the government wanted four years before they even asked for similar changes in other pensions. These new changes will mean that an NHS worker will pay twice what a civil servant pays, five times what a judge pays.

    Robert Lewis from Sheffield

    texts: I work as a junior doctor. If Andrew Lansley continues to insist that the new changes are fair, I would like the government to explain to the public why their pension scheme is so much more lucrative than ours and the rest of the public sector's.


    NHS Cumbria has announced that 47% of GP surgeries in the region have at least one doctor involved in industrial action, but they all remain open for urgent cases.

    At North Cumbria University Hospitals Trust, 21 non-urgent operations and 79 outpatient appointments have been rescheduled; at University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust the figures are 65 and 290.


    Scotland's Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon says 60% of Scottish GP practises have been affected by today's industrial action by doctors. Ms Sturgeon told Holyrood that 3,200 outpatients appointments and 450 inpatient and day cases had been cancelled.


    Maidstone Hospital has told BBC Radio 5live that disruption is minimal: no cancelled operations; five operations rescheduled; 12 appointments rescheduled.


    Although the pensions issue is being depicted as doctors standing up against the government, it should be remembered that there are nine current MPs who are or have worked as doctors. Among them is Conservative Sarah Wollaston who writes in the Daily Express. "It is plain wrong for doctors, who receive among the most generous pensions in the public sector, to put self-interest before vocation. How will those in the minority who decide to put pensions before patients look them in the eye when they resume normal duties?"


    Another of those doctor MPs is Dr Dan Poulter, who resigned from the BMA three weeks ago in protest at the planned strike action. Today he said: "The whole part of the doctor-patient relationship is built on trust and the idea that doctors are always acting in the best interests of their patients. What we're seeing today is the British Medical Association putting cash before care and that's unacceptable and I don't think patients are going to like that."

    Paul Ferris in Suffolk

    emails: I am a junior doctor. And when you calculate my hourly rate for nights and weekends, the cleaners and portering staff earn more then I do per hour. I did not get into medicine to make money or for the pension. But as a hospital doctor I work hard day and night to help people get better, and on a good day save lives. But there are bad days when people die when bad news is the only news, on those days no one in the world wants to be you.

    Dr Alan Thompson in Aberdeen

    emails: Much of the comment coming out of the government and right wing media seems to be saying "haha you haven't cancelled very much and haven't inconvenienced very many patients, so your action is useless". Mmmmm it may be news to them but our patients are our first priority and doctors will be very glad if not too many suffer. The politicians need to grow up and get back to the negotiating table.


    More on the dispute in Scotland: Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon was a timely stand-in for Alex Salmond for First Minister's Questions in Holyrood and said she "deeply regretted" the decision by doctors to take action, specifically those who were doing so in Scotland.

    She said: "They say the action is being taken to force the UK government back to the negotiating table. I should point out that the Scottish government has never left the negotiating table. I consider the action not just unfortunate but unnecessary as well."

    Jon Love in London

    emails: I am a GP in South London. But I'm also a tax payer, and also a patient. In response to various tweets I have read, we are still here in the surgery, supporting the strike, but seeing emergencies and remaining part of our community as always. It really isn't about them and us. We don't have the Ivory Towers that Andrew Landsley resides in.

    Dr Nick Woodall in Okehampton, Devon,

    emails: I voted "No" to industrial action and have worked a normal day today, seeing my patients in routine pre-booked appointments. It is a privilege for me to do what I do for a living. Times are hard for everyone, and doctors should accept their fair share of the burden. Those doctors taking industrial action today clearly don't realise how lucky they are and their action discredits the profession.


    Back in Holyrood, the Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson was not impressed by Nicola Sturgeon's answer on today's dispute. She said: "I didn't hear anything from the Deputy First Minister about why £68,000 is an unfair pension outcome. I didn't hear anything about whether she would increase that at the expense of lower-paid public sector workers, just more SNP grandstanding that they would do something different, just don't ask what."

    Thomas Jenkins

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay Those people who are moaning about how much Drs earn etc, forget the fact that to become a dr will cost at least £50,000

    Suman in Sheffield

    emails: I know many colleagues of mine who are angry at the reduction of their pay and would love to express their feelings. Most however are torn in having to choose not to see their patients, even if this means cancelling only "routine" appointments. Faced with this dilemma, most have actually chosen to work "normally". Despite this some have renounced the day's salary just to register their protest and some have not. As for me I am sticking to my diary like any other day but I will not receive pay for today. I am a hospital consultant.

    Kate in London

    emails: I've had an outpatient appointment cancelled today and it can't be rescheduled for three weeks because of the volume of patients. This will impact on my quality of life, even if to them I'm low priority.


    Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA, tells the BBC News channel that today's action should not be judged solely on the impact felt by patients - because it falls short of a full strike. "It has never surprised me that when it came to the crunch a lot of doctors do not want to take this out on patients," he said.

    He pointed out that the BMA's aim was to maximise the publicity for its primary argument - that it is only four years since doctors agreed a new pensions deal with the government. "The government decided to walk away from that deal. We hope the public will see the unfairness of that," he said.

    Mariah Amani

    tweets: Shame on the doctors for striking - there are people who are VERY poorly who need YOU.

    Colonel McCammond in Belfast

    emails: I'm an NHS consultant and I'm at work today. We didn't strike over non-funding of cancer drugs, but we do when asked to pay more for our own pensions? Get a grip BMA, this looks so arrogant. I know many colleagues agree with me - not all doctors are BMA members (I have resigned), the BMA had only a 50% turnout for their poll and even then didn't get 100% support. So well under 50% of UK doctors voted for this nonsense.

    1359: Breaking News

    The Department of Health issues a statement saying that the figures it has received so far from hospitals in England suggest that 10% of patients have had an operation, outpatient appointment or treatment rescheduled due to the BMA action.


    Health Secretary Andrew Lansley issues a statement after the release of the official NHS figures showing that 10% of patients have been affected. He says: "In the run-up to these strikes our objective has been to minimise disruption for patients. We asked doctors to recognise that their quarrel was not with patients but with the government. I am pleased that a significant majority of doctors have done just that and maintained services for their patients."


    Andrew Lansley adds that the next priority must be to ensure that those NHS patients who did not get their planned treatment today have that situation rectified "as soon as possible".

    Alastair Malcolm in Edinburgh

    emails: Compared to the excessive rewards in the financial sector, doctors provide an essential service to society and deserve generous but reasonable recompense.

    Consultant Craig Cowan in Wirral

    texts: Little thought has been given to the effect of increasing the pensionable age to 68 alongside the nature of the work doctors perform; the majority of doctors (especially those in specialties where manual dexterity and out-of-hours working is significant), will simply be unable to continue to safely practice at 68 years of age.


    On the situation at GP surgeries around England, the Department of Health says that three-quarters are operating a normal or near-normal service.

    Dr K Hardie in Glasgow

    texts: I feel that we have been left with no choice but to take industrial action. The imposed changes to our pension scheme amount to a stealth tax- penalising NHS workers for the catastrophic errors made in the banking sector.

    Kevin in Leeds

    emails: I have had my appointment cancelled, it was only booked two weeks' ago! Now I have to take further time off work for the rearranged appointment. GPs seem to do less hours, make arranging appointments difficult and my practice makes you call a premium rate line to even try to make an appointment, which on average takes three calls and then a 10 minute wait on the line. I have no sympathy for them and this just lowers my opinion of them.

    Donna Mckay in Houston

    emails: I couldn't get an appointment at my doctor's surgery today, so yes this has affected me. I do however support the doctors - they study for years they are professional people.Their salaries are justified and so to are their pensions. It is a sad state of affairs that our government does not offer its support.


    West of England correspondent Matthew Hill is reporting from outside the Frenchay Hospital in Bristol, where he says that behind the scenes managers have been working frantically to swap those doctors who are taking industrial action onto non-urgent work and vice versa, where possible.

    Dr C Ogle in Ealing

    emails: Medical doctors should never go on strike. Those striking are an absolute disgrace to the medical profession. This was impressed upon me even when I was a medical student at the University of Malaya in Singapore. Maybe the practice of medical ethics in Singapore, Malaya and Hong Kong is better there.

    Dr Mousumi Mukherjee in London

    emails: Doctors make huge sacrifices from the very start of their career to provide the best service they can. We often do 84- 100 hrs a week , sacrifice weekends, public holidays, family time to provide the NHS with the best possible staff. We already contribute 14% of our income to pensions as well as 1/3 of our income to taxes. The MPs pay only 11%- so why can't they increase their contributions?


    The scale of disruption in London is becoming clearer. "More than 90% of all hospital doctors in London are working normally," NHS London says. 490 operations have been rescheduled, representing about "10% of the total number of operations anticipated on the day." 83% of all GP practices in London are working normally.


    Remember that first birth we told you about at the newly-opened South West Acute Hospital, near Enniskillen (see 1031)? Well that baby now has a name. Shea Maguire entered the world weighing 8lb 8oz and blissfully unaware he was born on a day when doctors around the UK were taking industrial action (although maternity units were deliberately excluded from the action). If you want an opportunity to say "aaah", there's some video here.

    Little Shea Maguire was the first baby born at the new hospital
    Nigel Pemberton in Tonbridge

    emails: I believe doctors are wrong to take industrial action. They are very well remunerated for the job they do and should accept the changes the government is making to their pensions. Even after the changes they will be much better off in retirement than most. I really hope the government stands by its plans and makes no concessions.

    Dr Alan Robertson, Chairman, BMA Pensions Committee

    emails: I'm becoming increasingly frustrated by the clear misreprensentation by the UK Government of the 'negotiations' at the end of 2011. Mr Lansley is missing the key issue - these were not proper negotiations and they are making drastic changes to a scheme that underwent major change just four years ago, is in surplus and is sustainable into the future thanks to a cost-sharing agreement.

    Yad in Great Yarmouth

    emails: I am a consultant, but will not take part in the action. I will not, because I do not believe in any pension scheme where a government has control over it. I do not have an NHS pension as I do not think that the new generation will benefit much by the time we are due. On the other hand I do support any action by us (doctors) to remind the government that we have a voice.


    Leicester Hospital's Phil Walmsley says: "The action by doctors today has had minimal impact on the normal running of our hospitals." 25 doctors out of 1,676 are taking action today, he says; 31 operations and 73 outpatients' appointments have been cancelled. To put that in perspective, the hospital says it usually carries out about 4,200 outpatient appointments and 420 non-urgent operations.


    NHS Lincolnshire says that 21 out of 102 GP practices are providing a "modified" service, although they are still offering urgent and emergency cover. None of the surgeries in the area are closed due to industrial action.


    NHS London has updated its previous estimates: it now believes that 520 operations have been rescheduled and 77% of all GP practices in London are working normally. Its earlier figures were 490 operations and 83% of GP practices.

    Amanda from Liverpool

    emails: The description of this as a strike has been all wrong. I am a junior doctor, I fully support the action but we are not on strike - we are just carrying out emergency work. There is far more cover in hospitals today than there is over a weekend. And there were no GP practices open over the jubilee bank holiday so emergency cover today is more than is offered for at least two days a week.

    Helen Grote

    tweets: I'm caring for unwell patients, and supporting the action. #bmaaction @BBC_haveyoursay

    Helen from south London

    texts: patient safety today is at a higher level than that provided at most weekends. I love my job as a doctor but do not feel it is fair that we have to pay more into our pensions when we are already making a profit for the government. This is essentially an extra tax for being a doctor.

    Dr S. Tinkler from Hampshire

    emails: 2 issues for me: The first is the unfairness of NHS workers paying much more than civil servants at the same pay scale for the same pension - a point the MPs' have yet to justify - they have simply evaded the issue! The first thing that they should do before implementing deeply unpopular changes is to make them fair, which they have not done.The second is the increased retirement age which is not in the best interests of patients [or doctors]. I would not want to be operated on by a 68 year old surgeon!


    The latest from Nottingham University Hospitals Trust: fewer than one in 10 doctors took action there today. Seven planned operations out of 140 were rearranged and around 80 out of "several thousand" patient appointments were rescheduled.

    Patrick Chance

    tweets: @BBC_HaveYourSay Your website is wrong! I am an NHS Consultant and most of us do not earn £120k, we earn less than a senior civil servant.

    Gareth in Somerset

    texts: BBC news I support the doctors. They work hard to care for us and should be well rewarded. They shouldn't be expected to let hypocritical MPs renege on the previous deal.


    Sharply criticising the BMA, Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said that "thousands of patients who expected to have an operation or an appointment today have been inconvenienced or distressed by delay to their care". This was "extremely regrettable", he said, calling on the BMA to "co-operate" with further negotiations on the future of their pensions.


    The industrial action will continue until midnight, and the mutual recriminations about whether the government or the BMA is to blame for the stalled pension negotiations are likely to last much longer, but we're concluding our live page coverage. We leave those of you wondering whether the BMA has achieved its goals with a statement from its chairman, Dr Hamish Meldrum: "Our intention was not to maximise impact on patients, but to communicate the scale of doctors' anger and to encourage the government back to the table."


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