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Industrial action could threaten waiting time targets, Lansley warns doctors

Health secretary Andrew Lansley is to write to the BMA warning that doctors could breach their commitments on waiting times if operations and tests are cancelled as a result of the industrial action on pensions later this month.  

The letter will say the action on June 21 should not compromise patients’ waiting time rights, set at a maximum of 18 weeks, the Telegraph reports.

The BMA has consistently said that the day of action will not harm patient care, with all emergency care continuing throughout the 24-hours.

The association’s decision to proceed with industrial action came after the ballot results, announced last week, gave them a mandate with proceed, with 83% voting yes for action short of a strike, on a turnout of 50%.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, BMA chair, said: ‘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.’

Official figures show there are around 25,000 routine operations carried out in the NHS in the UK each day.