A STRIKE by East Lancashire doctors later this month “will be very unpopular with the public”, according to an MP.

GPs and hospital consultants belonging to the British Medical Association (BMA) union, balloted for industrial action over plans to raise the retirement aged from 65 to 68, and to incre-ase contributions.

For 24 hours on June 21, emergency medical care will continue, but non-urgent cases and GP appo-intments will be postponed.

Pendle MP Andrew Ste-phenson said: “I have enormous respect for the work our local doctors do, but we’re in a situation where everyone in the public and private sectors are facing cuts to wages, changes to pensions and everybody is having to share the pain of getting the economy back on track.

“I find it staggering for doctors, one of the highest paid professions with the most generous pension conditions in the country, to consider srtriking.”

The number of East Lan-cashire hospital doctors and GPs taking part isn’t yet known.

NHS East Lancashire and NHS Blackburn with Darwen issued a joint statment which said that emergency services would not be disrupted. It said: “GPs who decide to take part may postpone routine appointments, and may only carry out urgent or emergency care.

“If a patient rings their GP practice on that day for an appointment they may only be seen in the case of a medical emergency.

“To minimise any inc-onvenience to patients, we would advise anyone who needs a routine appoin-tment to plan ahead and arrange to see their doctor or collect a repeat prescr-iption either before or after June 21.”

Ian Brandwood, director of human resources for East Lancashire Hospitals NHS Trust, said: “We note the decision of the BMA and at this stage we are working with our doctors and the BMA to assess the potential impact of the proposed action and to try and ensure that any effect on patient care will be minimised.

“The BMA have already said that doctors will be available to treat urgent cases. We will issue further information once we have concluded discussions.”