LONDON -- British doctors staged their first strike in nearly 40 years Thursday over plans to increase the amount they pay into their pension fund and make them work until they are 68, ITV News reported.
The government says doctors would receive more than $105,000 a year after the age of 68 under its proposals.
However the British Medical Association, which represents doctors, says the highest earning doctors will have to pay 14.5 percent of their pay into the pension fund by 2014, compared with 8.5 percent in March 2012.
They also claim the new deal would actually leave retired doctors worse off.
ITV News reported that early polls suggested as few as 22 percent of the BMA's more than 100,000 members were taking part in the strike.
"Nobody is happy about taking any kind of action that impacts adversely on patients. There has been a lot of soul searching in the BMA, but we have to represent our members' views and nearly three-quarters of those who voted wanted to take this kind of action because they were so angry about what was happening to their pensions," Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA, told ITV News.
U.K. Health Secretary Andrew Lansley told the station that up to 1.25 million doctor appointments could have to be delayed.
He said the BMA was "out on their own" because other trade unions in the U.K.'s public health service had agreed to a new deal "even if they didn't want to increase contributions for their pensions."
ITV News is NBC's U.K. partner.
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