EAST Kilbride patients could suffer when doctors go on strike today (Thursday).
All non-urgent appointments are to be cancelled during the British Medical Association (BMA) members’ day of action.
The government’s planned shake-up of pensions has led to the first doctors’ strike action since 1975.
NHS Lanarkshire have confirmed emergency medical care will be provided. However, disruption to planned surgery and routine appointments for both inpatients and outpatients is to be expected.
Patients whose appointments are to be cancelled will be contacted by the health board or their locum GP.
NHS Lanarkshire’s director of human resources, Kenny Small, said: “We have been liaising with our BMA members to ensure that the highest standards of patient care and patient safety takes place during the period of industrial action.
“All appointments have been clinically reviewed and some outpatient and inpatient routine activity will be affected as a result of the day of action.
“Patients should be aware that urgent and emergency appointments will still be available at all GP practices, and other services, such as treatment room appointments, will be unaffected.”
Under the proposed pension reform, members of the NHS scheme would have to work to the state pension age (up to 68) in order to be able to draw a full pension.
NHS staff pension contributions will increase from April 2012, with the highest earners contributing over 14 per cent of their pay by 2014.
BMA members have overwhelmingly rejected the government's offer and are seeking a “fairer” proposal.
Their decision to strike was condemned by health secretary Andrew Lansley.
Dr Brian Keighley, chairman of the BMA in Scotland, said: “Our dispute is essentially about the government going back on a deal negotiated in good faith only four years ago.
“The NHS pension scheme is not a drain on taxpayers. It currently delivers a surplus of £2 billion to the Treasury each year. Now the government wants to tear up that deal.
“Although this (the strike) will be disruptive to the NHS and to some patients, doctors will be available when patients need us most and the action will not impact on patient safety.
“Doctors do not make the decision to take industrial action lightly, but we hope that patients will understand that doing this is the only way that we can get the government to talk to us.”