Operations to be cancelled

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HOSPITAL managers in Sheffield are contacting patients who will have operations cancelled when doctors take industrial action on June 21.

Prof Mike Richmond, medical director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “We will of course respect our doctors’ decision to take industrial action or not.

“However, our first priority is patient care and we will ensure urgent and emergency care is not affected.”

Members of the British Medical Association voted to take industrial action for the first time in almost 40 years over major changes to the NHS pension scheme.

The day of action will see doctors providing all urgent and emergency care, but postponing non-urgent cases.

Prof Richmond added: “With regard to other non-urgent services we will be contacting patients over the coming weeks to let them know if their appointment or treatment will be postponed.”

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of council at the BMA, said: “We are taking this step very reluctantly, and would far prefer to negotiate for a fairer solution.

“But this clear mandate for action – on a very high turnout – reflects just how let down doctors feel by the government’s unwillingness to find a fairer approach to the latest pension changes and its refusal to acknowledge the major reforms of 2008 that made the NHS scheme sustainable in the long term.

“Non-urgent work will be postponed and, although this will be disruptive to the NHS, doctors will ensure patient safety is protected.

“All urgent and emergency care will be provided and we will work closely with managers so that anyone whose care is going to be affected can be given as much notice as possible.

“This is not a step that doctors take lightly – this is the first industrial action doctors have taken since 1975.

“We have consistently argued that the Government should reconsider its position, and even at this stage we would much prefer to negotiate a fairer deal than to take action.”