The leader of the British Medical Assosiation (BMA) says the government gave junior doctors "no choice" but to take industrial action. Tens of thousands have walked out in the first junior doctors' strike in 40 years.

Thousands of procedures have been cancelled on 12 January after the BMA and the UK government failed to come to an agreement over a contract dispute.

Dr Mark Porter, the council chair of the BMA, said: "Industrial action is something that one only does when one has no choice. Junior doctors have no confidence in the way the government has been acting in this, and feel they have no alternative other than to take industrial action. We have tried really hard to avoid it – no doctor wants to do this.

"The government wants to reduce weekend and night pay rates. Why would they do that? Most junior doctors feel that that is simply reducing the recognition they get for a service they have provided for decades. Those are profound areas that speak to patient safety, and viability for the national health service in the future."

Prime Minister David Cameron has labelled the strikes as "dangerous", and has called for the BMA to return to the negotiation table.