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.
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.