Doctors taking industrial action today do not want to do anything to jeopardise their relationship with patients, the British Medical Association has said.
BMA chair of council Dr Hamish Meldrum said that doctors’ fight is not with patients but with the government.
Thousands of routine appointments and non-urgent operations are set to be cancelled today as doctors take industrial action for the first time in 37 years in protest over the government’s controversial pension reforms.
Mr Meldrum said he hoped that after today’s day of action the union could reopen negotiations with the government, adding that “nobody wants a repeat of this”.
He told ITV’s Daybreak: “I hope (the action) is not pointless and futile because we are very anxious to seek a resolution to this dispute and if this helps to highlight the problem and to get to that resolution then I hope it will have some point to it.
“Nobody is happy about taking any sort of action that impacts adversely on patients. There has been a lot of soul-searching at the BMA but we have to represent our members’ views and nearly three-quarters of those who voted wanted to take this sort of action because of what was happening to their pensions.”
He added: “Nobody likes taking anything that will inconvenience patients and I know a lot of doctors who have taken this step very unwillingly. Of course doctors are not on strike today - all doctors are at their place of work, they will be seeing anybody who is urgent or who needs to be seen. It is not a strike in the normal sense.
“The nature of the work that doctors do, it is very difficult to do anything that won’t have some impact on patients.
“We doctors have enjoyed a good relationship, high trust, with their patients and we don’t want to do anything to get rid of that, but what we feel we’ve had is lack of trust from the government.”