Welcome to the new Independent website. We hope you enjoy it and we value your feedback. Please contact us here.

Doctors back strike against NHS reforms

Doctors will call for industrial action against the NHS reforms and a vote of "no confidence" in the Health Secretary Andrew Lansley at an emergency meeting next week.

Representatives of the 140,000-member British Medical Association will hear demands that the Government hold a public referendum on the reforms and withdraw the Health and Social Care Bill "if there is not a clear mandate of support".

Anger at the reforms has been growing among doctors since publication of the bill in January, which indicated the Government had dismissed the profession's concerns over measures to increase competition and encourage privatisation.

Ministers' failure to respond has fuelled criticism of the BMA's policy of "critical engagement" and the agenda for next week's meeting shows that calls for it to switch to a policy of outright opposition have intensified.

Robust exchanges between the two sides over the best way forward are expected at Tuesday's meeting, which will be attended by 350 representatives of consultants, GPs and junior doctors.

A motion from Enfield and Haringey division expresses "grave concern" that the bill will lead to the "privatisation" of care and calls on the BMA to "decide on actions to prevent the implementation of the bill, including industrial action".

Laurence Buckman, chair of the GPs committee of the BMA, said: "There is a lot in [the bill] we don't like... like the commercialisation of the NHS."