Doctors are to take industrial action over changes to their pension scheme, the British Medical Association (BMA) has confirmed.
The industrial action is set for June 21, and will see non-urgent treatment and appointments postponed.
The action will not affect emergency care, urgent procedures, labour services or surgery and referrals for cancer. The BMA has said "doctors will ensure patient safety is protected" and will still attend their place of work. Some doctors may choose not to take industrial action and to work as normal. Further action has not been confirmed by the BMA, but is a possibility.
All GP surgeries will be open as usual. Some may offer a reduced service, treating only urgent cases. You should attend any appointment scheduled for June 21 unless you have been told not to. If you are ill and require non-urgent treatment, visit NHS Direct, call 0845 4647 or seek advice from your local pharmacy or walk-in centre.
A&E and 999 services are for people with a life-threatening or serious condition that needs immediate attention, such as a heart attack, a stroke, breathing problems, or a serious accident.
If you have any doubts about whether you will be able to get the medical care that you need on the day of industrial action, June 21, you should contact the service provider. You can obtain their contact details from the NHS Choices directories:
How could this affect people needing medical care?
The BMA says that doctors taking part in the action will provide only urgent and emergency care. This means many non-urgent cases will be postponed. If care can not be postponed safely, it will not be postponed at all, the BMA says.
It says it is working with NHS managers to ensure that anyone affected is able to receive as much notice as possible and to have non-urgent appointments rearranged.
On the day of the action, doctors will be in their usual workplaces and spend their time undertaking some, but not all, of their usual duties. They will not do work that can safely be delayed, the BMA says. However, doctors are expected to have rescheduled the appointments in advance of the day of action.
If you have a non-urgent health problem, such as a cough or cold, or you want health advice, such as to quit smoking, you could visit your local pharmacist (chemist). They can also help you decide whether you will need to see a doctor. Use the Find and choose services option on this site to do a postcode search for local pharmacies.
The National Pharmacy Association has urged people who need repeat prescriptions to arrange these with their GP practice in advance of June 21. It also says that pharmacists can refer to other health professionals for treatment if needed.
What types of care might be postponed by this industrial action?
The BMA says that ‘there will inevitably be some disruption’ and that this includes:
- Non-urgent hospital outpatient appointments
- Elective (non-urgent) surgery (such as cataract removal and hernia repair)
- Routine appointments in general practice
What types of care will not be postponed by this industrial action?
The BMA says that patients’ safety is a priority, so care that will not be affected includes:
- New cancer referrals and surgery
- Emergency and urgent procedures, investigations and discharges for inpatients
- Emergency department and labour ward attendances
- In general practice, care of patients who considered themselves in need of urgent attention that day
Will all non-urgent medical services be disrupted?
NHS Choices and Behind the Headlines will provide information for the public as it becomes available. The BMA has said it will announce further details of the action in the coming days.