THE accident and emergency department at the Royal Gwent Hospital, Newport, was slightly busier than usual early yesterday, as doctors across the NHS took industrial action for the first time in 40 years.

And some patients with non-urgent problems appeared to be putting off going to their GP surgery on the day of action.

Aneurin Bevan Health Board reported that activity at the Royal Gwent’s A&E unit, one of Wales’ busiest, settled down as the morning progressed, after a brisk start.

A&E at Nevill Hall Hospital, Abergavenny, and the minor injuries unit within the local emergency centre at Ysbyty Ystrad Fawr, Ystrad Mynach, reported normal activity.

“Indications are that all services are managing well and doctors involved in the industrial action are fully contributing to providing any urgent care that is required,”

said a health board spokesman.

“We will be recovering any loss of activity over the next 12 weeks.”

Patients booked on routine appointments in Gwent hospitals yesterday were notified in advance if these had been cancelled.

On the primary care front, Dr David Bailey, chairman of the British Medical Association Wales General Practitioners’ Committee, and a former chairman of the Gwent Local Medical Committee, believes around half the 91 practices in Gwent had taken some form of action.

He said his own surgery – Ty Bryn, in Trethomas, which has a branch in Machen – had a “relatively quiet day,”

dealing with some 100 patients in the morning, around half the usual number.

Dr Bailey said the effect of the day of action, held in response to the government’s refusal to negotiate over its plan to reform the NHS pension scheme set up in 2008, would have to be reviewed before the BMA considers its next step.