Doctors' pension protest may affect wait for care
Mid-Somerset patients may have to wait even longer to see a doctor or specialist if industrial action goes ahead later this month.
Doctors have voted to take industrial action for the first time in almost 40 years, in a protest over major changes to the NHS pension scheme.
The first day of action will take place on June 21 and will see doctors providing all urgent and emergency care, but postponing non-urgent cases.
NHS bosses in Somerset are already taking part in talks to ensure any potential impact is minimised for patients.
Somerset Primary Care Trust released a statement regarding contingency measures.
"Managers with NHS Somerset are maintaining close contact with local GP and hospital doctor representatives so that they might have a better understanding of the potential impact that the British Medical Association's (BMA) 'Day of Action' might have upon local health services," said the statement.
"The BMA has suggested that any industrial action by their members would not affect patients in need of urgent or emergency medical treatment.
"However, it has yet to issue detailed guidance to its members clarifying what 'non-urgent' health care might be affected.
"NHS Somerset has always enjoyed strong collaborative working with local GPs and it therefore hopes that ongoing national negotiations will result in a resolution to the dispute without the need to inconvenience patients.
"Questions of whether industrial action would place GPs in breach of their contractual obligations have not been considered by NHS Somerset, who would look to the Department of Health to provide the necessary guidance on such complex legal matters."