Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, a part of the NHS Confederation, said:
"It is hugely disappointing that the NHS and its patients are facing this day of industrial action. We are deeply concerned about the distress it will cause patients, as well as the anxiety it will cause to many of our staff who want to ensure their patients are not put at risk.
"We will find out whether the plans to protect urgent and emergency care that employers have been working on can hold up in the face of the first doctors' strike in nearly 40 years.
"It is important for people to remember that if they need to see a GP urgently, they will still be seen. As ever, only call 999 or go to your A&E if it is an emergency."
"Safe and quality care is always our number one priority. But no one should lose sight of the importance that good relationships make to achieving this. We need to keep our collective focus on returning to constructive and trusting working relationships as soon as possible.
"Feelings run high about industrial action. An ill timed word or comment between staff can contaminate relationships and poison working environments for months or years to come.
"Doctors also know public confidence in them may be damaged by this action. Our success in the future depends on the maturity of our relationships.
"This is a day when we all need to recognise our first priority to patients, avoid further distress to them and return to providing the care and service we can have pride in."
Mike Farrar, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, today (Wednesday 20 June) made his keynote address to his organisation’s national conference in Manchester. On the subject of tomorrow’s industrial action by the British Medical Association (BMA), he said:
"Whatever the right and wrongs of this dispute between doctors and the Government, I feel passionately that patients should not be dragged into the argument.
"NHS trusts have been pulling out all the stops to minimise the effect on patients. But this day will have an impact on the service and will cause disruption for many.
"Good relations between all the constituent parts of the NHS are crucial to its success. It is important that strong feelings about pensions do not spill over into the longer term."