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Support shown for GPs after first strike date for 37 years
DISRUPTION to patients in the town was said to be mininal as doctors staged a protest against Government reforms to their pensions.
Today, doctors up and down the country participated in their first day of action for 37 years in protest over plans to increase contributions and make them work longer.
Nationally, one in 10 patients have had their operations, outpatient appointments or treatments rescheduled due to the British Medical Association's (BMA) industrial action, national figures suggested, while a quarter of GP surgeries were operating a reduced service according to the Department of Health.
Dr Peter Swinyard, a senior partner at the Phoenix Surgery in Toothill and also chairman of the Family Doctor Association, said many of his patients who had appointments today had been supportive of the industrial action.
He said: “I think it’s an anathema for doctors to do anything like industrial action so it is a sign of how incredibly upset we are by the behaviour of the Government.
“If the idea was to draw the public’s attention to the unfair way doctors are being singled out then it has done it’s job.
“No patients have been harmed in the making of this industiral action and there were more doctors on than an average bank holiday.
“A lot of people have been damaged with their pensions and one can anticipate a lack of sympathy but from what I’ve heard and seen people have been remarkably understanding of our position.”
NHS Swindon said it had worked with local GPs to ensure that disruption was kept to a minimum.
Debra Elliott, Director of Commissioning Development for NHS Swindon, said: “Patient care will always be our top priority, and we want to assure the public that we worked closely with the GPs in the county, and with the local hospitals, to ensure medical cover was available for our patients.”
Health Secretary Andrew Lansley said: “In the run-up to these strikes our objective has been to minimise disruption for patients. We asked doctors to recognise that their quarrel was not with patients but with the Government. I am pleased that a significant majority of doctors have done just that and maintained services for their patients.
“It is extremely regrettable if any patients have suffered unnecessarily.”