All operations and appointments on the day will be cancelled, as the medics take industrial action for the first time in 37 years.

Non –urgent surgery will be postponed, along with routine GP and hospital appointments, however emergency and urgent care will not be affected.

Doctors are battling instructions to increase their working hours and pay more into their pensions. The government is also trying to push through a rise in the retirement age to 68.

The British Medical Association announced the strike after a majority vote in a ballot of more than 100,000 doctors. The turn out was 50 per cent.

The BMA has criticised the government over its unwillingness to negotiate on the mooted reforms.

At present, a consultant earning £120,000 a year can expect to retire at 60 on a pension of £48,000 a year.

Under the Government’s changes, however, a doctor who is now 40 would have to work until they were 62 to get the same pension. A 24-year-old doctor would have to stay on until they were 67.

Health secretary Andrew Lansley said the average doctor would retire on £68,000 a year under the changes.

“The public will not understand or sympathise with the BMA if they call for industrial action over their pensions,” he added.

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “We know doctors are anxious about changes to their pensions.

“But no one wants to see patients dragged into the argument.”

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