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British doctors staging job action in pension row

LONDON (AP) – Medical appointments and minor operations were canceled across Britain Thursday, as thousands of doctors took job action for the first time in 37 years to protest changes to their pensions.

Doctors’ union the British Medical Association said the 24-hour action was not a strike _ doctors showed up for work but were refusing to do non-urgent procedures or paperwork.

The medical association represents 100,000 doctors, but it was unclear how many were participating in the action.

Health officials said there had been only a limited impact on services. In London, the local health authority said 90 percent of hospitals and more than 80 percent of doctors’ practices were working normally, although around 490 operations and 3,200 hospital appointments had been rescheduled.

The doctors say the government has reneged on a pension deal agreed four years ago, but which the government says is no longer affordable. The government says the doctors have a good deal and are penalizing patients.

Polls suggest little public support for the action. Many public sector workers are facing job cuts or pension curbs as the government strives to slash billions in spending. Private-sectors workers have also seen their pensions hit by the global financial crisis.

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