British health officials are bracing for an unprecedented five-day junior doctors strike announced for mid-September.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt Thursday called the planned walkout "totally irresponsible" as tensions rose in the longstanding dispute over pay and weekend work.
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The British Medical Association, the doctors' union, says the physicians will withdraw their labor on Sept. 12-16 from 8 a.m. until 5 p.m. each day.
The planned strike reflects the impasse between the government and junior doctors, who are physicians with up to 10 years' experience.
Hunt says roughly 100,000 operations and 1 million patient appointments would be affected by the strike.
There had been a series of shorter strikes earlier in the year.