June 21 - Doctors in the UK stage a 24 hour strike over government reforms to increase pension contributions and introduce a later retirement age. It is the first strike by doctors in almost 40 years. Hayley Platt reports
It was emergencies only at this London surgery. SOUNDBITE: Doctor's receptionist, saying (English): "We're only seeing urgent appointments today due to the BMA industrial action" For the first time in almost four decades UK doctors are taking industrial action. They're unhappy about government changes to their pension. SOUNDBITE: Dr Paul Cundy, GP, saying (English): "We're in a very very difficult position because doctors don't like antagonizing our patients. It's hardly the ethos of being a doctor but we're in a position where we have nowhere else to go. The only way we can express our anger and attempt to get the government to come back and talk to us in an honest and reasonable manner is by taking some form of industrial action." Doctors earning more than £110,000 will see contributions rise by half to above 14 percent. And new doctors will have to work an extra three years until the age of 68. But their pensions are more generous than many others in the public sector and some patients are angry. SOUNDBITE: Old-age pensioner, saying (English): "I think in a way it's disgusting that they take this type of action when there are people who will need some help." Accident and Emergency units were still operating normally but many consultants postponed appointments. SOUNDBITE: Dr Peter Bennie, Consultant Psychiatrist, saying (English): "It's taken a long time for us to come to this. We have tried everything possible to get a sensible and fair negotiation on any changes that need to be made to the pensions scheme and government particularly UK government will not meet with us to do that." The cuts are part of the UK's austerity measurers and the Health minister says doctors shouldn't complain. SOUNDBITE: Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health, saying (English): "The issue is, is this the right thing to do, why should patients be penalised. I mean these are many of them patients that can only dream to have the kind of pension that doctors have." Polls suggested just over half of the general public was opposed to the action, with a third in favour. Both sides say they won't back down. Hayley Platt, Reuters.