Andrew Lansley has pleaded with doctors not to take part in industrial action on Thursday.

The Health Secretary urged doctors not to participate in what he called a "pointless" strike over the Government's controversial pension reforms, warning them that it will achieve nothing.

Mr Lansley told the NHS Confederation conference in Manchester the action would cause inevitable damage to services for patients.

"We cannot prioritise doctors over every other public sector worker when they have one of the most generous pension schemes in the country and will continue to do so.

"In seeking a more generous deal for doctors, the BMA (British Medical Association) are seeking a less fair deal for NHS staff overall. I don't think that NHS staff or the public will understand or sympathise with that.

"So let me be clear - the strike is pointless. It will achieve nothing. We will implement this pension deal which is a fair and sustainable deal for NHS workers.

"All that the BMA is doing is creating uncertainty, discomfort and difficulty for patients, most of whom could only dream of getting a pension like theirs.

"Even at this late stage I would call on all doctors to think again, do the right thing and ditch the strike."

The BMA said its members do not want to participate in a day of action but they feel that there is "no other option left".

The action was announced last month after the BMA accused ministers of pressing ahead with "totally unjustified" increases to pension contributions and a later retirement age for doctors even though a deal on pensions was agreed four years ago.