A patient's guide on how to survive the doctors' strike

Industrial action by doctors in underway. Photo:

Actually it's not that difficult because the doctors' strike is not a strike in the normal sense of the word.

First, doctors will be at work - whether they're GPs, hospital doctors, or surgeons. Wherever they are, they will provide emergency and urgent care.

So what's the day of action all about?

Well, they won't do things that can safely be postponed. Things like appointments for travel vaccinations at your GPs or cataract operations in hospitals.

By now, if you had an appointment for Thursday, you should have had a letter cancelling it, if the hospital or GPs surgery is taking part in the strike.

Trouble is, its difficult to know who is and who isn't taking industrial action.

With doctors pensions currently running at over twice the average wage public support is expected to be low Credit: Press Association

Straw polls by specialist doctors papers like Pulse, suggest large numbers of GPs have not told their Primary Care Trusts (which pay the surgeries) that they will be taking industrial action. 75 per cent may opt out of industrial action.

But in hospitals the BMA says:

At least four in every five NHS employers... across the UK have postponed some non-urgent cases.

The Department of Health says the action could (repeat could) mean 1.25 million cancelled appointments and 30,000 cancelled operations.

Two weeks ago Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told me the "strike" could put patients at risk.

The BMA is anxious to prove him wrong and that's why they've tried hard to tailor their "day of action" to cause limited disruption.

They admit they're not expecting members of the public to support the strike but ask that people understand why they've been driven to it.

With doctors pensions currently running at over twice the average wage, that's a big ask.