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Doctors are to take a “reluctant” day of industrial action – or rather inaction – on June 21 when non-urgent cases will be postponed.

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The medics will also refuse to do any paperwork in the day of disruption to the NHS, which will be the first industrial action by doctors in almost 40 years.

It marks an escalation in resentment over the government’s controversial pension reforms.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said doctors will still see anyone who is ill, or who believes they are ill, on the day of action, but will not do admin work.

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.”

He added: “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.”

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said: “The public will not understand or sympathise with the BMA if they call for industrial action over their pensions.”

The action by doctors followed a warning earlier this week of co-ordinated strikes by the two biggest teachers unions in England and Wales in the autumn term over pensions and other issues such as pay and workload.

A series of national strikes have already been held by public sector workers over the coalition government’s pension changes, with fresh action being threatened for next month.

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