Around 130,000 doctors and medical students are to be surveyed about the government’s final offer on pensions, raising the prospect of their first industrial action ballot for over 30 years.

The British Medical Association said it will seek the views of its members on whether the proposed deal is acceptable, and if not, what action they would be prepared to take.

The BMA said a formal ballot on industrial action could follow. The association, which last took industrial action in the mid 1970s over junior doctors’ working conditions, did not take part in the huge strike by public sector workers in November.

The BMA said today that even though improvements had been made to the original offer, doctors would still be “hit hard”, with those at the start of their careers facing the prospect of paying over £200,000 in additional lifetime contributions.

Many doctors would have to work until they were 68 before being able to draw a full pension, while the amount deducted from their pay will go up from April, with further rises in 2013 and 2014.

Dr Hamish Meldrum, chairman of the BMA Council, said: “We want doctors and medical students to be fully aware of what’s coming their way, and to have their say on what happens.

“Everyone will be affected, and it’s up to the whole medical profession to influence what we do next. Either way, the implications are huge. We face either major, damaging changes to our pensions, or the first ballot of doctors on industrial action since the 70s.

“The BMA, along with the other unions, has not accepted the offer. That, quite rightly, is for our members to help decide. Throughout intensive negotiations, we repeatedly pointed out that the NHS pension was radically overhauled only three years ago, and is actually delivering a positive cashflow to the Treasury.”

Leaders of other unions and staff organisations will meet within the coming week to decide their next move after the government made its final offer following last November’s strike.