doctors yesterday took industrial action for the first time in 40 years.
Members of the British Medical Association (BMA) took industrial action, cancelling all routine appointments and non-emergency surgery, in a dispute over changes to the NHS pension scheme.
Dr Michael Jones, of Guildhall and Barrow Surgery,, Bury St Edmunds, where five GPs took part in the action, said: “We feel very strongly about the Government’s behaviour and its refusal to negotiate with the BMA. Our action is to try to send a message with little or no affect to patient services.”
The disruption affected both West Suffolk Hospital, where 11 operations, 13 outpatient clinics and seven ultrasound scans were cancelled, and 22 of the county’s GP practices, where routine appointments were cancelled and only those in need of urgent medical attention received treatment.
Speaking on Wednesday, Dr Dan Poulter, MP for Central Suffolk, said: “I hope that doctors will come to their senses and put patient care first.
“What we will see is about one in three GPs not treating patients and important operations at local hospitals not being carried out and that’s unacceptable, particularly when doctors in this country are the best paid in the world and will receive a £68,000 pension – which is more than most people could ever dream of.
“It’s important that doctors stop putting cash before care and I would hope that this will be an end to industrial action and we will see doctors putting their patients first and accepting what is an excellent pension agreement.”
Dr Simon Rudland, of Stowhealth surgery, Stowmarket, did not to join the industrial action. He said: “We have enormous sympathy with those who voted to strike – we have major concerns about the impact of pension changes on the profession.
“However we are a traditional practice with a strong focus on patient care and have decided not to strike.”