South Yorkshire doctors to snub union’s ‘inappropriate’ strike

Rejected: Six out of 10 medical practices in South Yorkshire will not take part in the British Medical Association's industrial action over pensions reform on Thursday.

Rejected: Six out of 10 medical practices in South Yorkshire will not take part in the British Medical Association's industrial action over pensions reform on Thursday.

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MOST doctors in South Yorkshire will snub their union’s day of industrial action on Thursday - with 60 per cent of GP practices offering a full service and hospitals barely affected.

The British Medical Association has called its first industrial action for 37 years over proposed reforms to its members’ pension scheme.

A ballot for the action was well supported, with 79 per cent of GPs, 84 per cent of consultants and 87 per cent of staff doctors voting for action short of a strike on a 50 per cent turnout.

But many doctors in South Yorkshire have decided to ignore the action and will continue to provide a full service.

Participating doctors have cancelled non-urgent operations, outpatient appointments and GP consultations - while continuing to provide emergency and urgent care.

But others have said the strike is ‘inappropriate’ considering the hard times faced by their patients.

Only 30 per cent of GP practices have cancelled all routine consultations because of the strike, according to NHS South Yorkshire.

Some 10 per cent of surgeries will see a modified service, with some doctors providing normal consultations and others striking, while patients at 60 per cent of surgeries will see a normal service because staff are not taking part at all.

All seven GPs at Woodhouse Health Centre have decided not to strike.

They said: “The practice has great concerns about many of the changes being forced through in the NHS and the effect these changes may have on our patients.

“We do, however, accept the great financial challenges facing our country is resulting in hardship for many of our population.

“We therefore feel the industrial action being proposed by the BMA around our pension changes is inappropriate - although we do feel frustrated by the way the Government has dealt with this issue.”

Karen Curran, NHS South Yorkshire’s primary care lead, said: “We believe the majority of practices will be operating business as usual.”

Hospitals in South Yorkshire and north Derbyshire have reported a similar pattern, with nearly all services running as normal.

Prof Mike Richmond, medical director at Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, said: “By planning ahead we have had to postpone only a limited number of outpatient appointments and non-urgent operations.”

Steven Ned, director of human resources at Sheffield Children’s Hospital, said: “A significant number of doctors have indicated they will be working as normal.”

A Rotherham Hospital spokeswoman said: “We are expecting only a small number of staff to take industrial action and as such there will be minimum disruption, if any, to patients.”

Chesterfield Royal Hospital is expecting less than 80 out of 1,000 clinic slots to be affected.

Barnsley Hospital has postponed 28 per cent of outpatient appointments and eight surgical operations.

Sheffield Health and Social Care Trust said it would work to minimise the effect of the action.