The General Medical Council has indicated that locum doctors could be struck off if they exploit tax loopholes in order to gain additional earnings.
Guidance has been issued by the GMC, after agency medics were accused of utilising an organised campaign in order to extort money from the NHS.
This crisis has arisen following the introduction of new rules, attempted to clampdown on tax avoidance.
NHS trusts must now subtract tax and national insurance from pay packets at source from workers supplied to them via agencies or personal service companies.
But doctors working within the system claim that this could reduce the earnings by as much as 30%.
Meanwhile, the authority claimed that pay will only be reduced if workers were paid insufficient tax previously.
Although the authorities have defended the new policy, it has also been conceded that certain locum doctors have threatened to withdraw services following the new arrangement.
NHS managers have also confirmed that agency doctors are threatening to withdraw from shifts at late notice unless rates of pay are increased.
Health regulators state that the actions effectively represent an organised campaign by doctors who realised that the service will struggle to run without them.
And this dispute is hardly timely, considering that many hospitals will face increasing pressure over the busy Easter weekend.
In an attempt to address the situation, the General Medical Council has issued guidance, indicating that any “unreasonable withdrawal of staff” will conflict with the essential duty of doctors to provide safe care.
Susan Goldsmith, GMC deputy chief executive, admitted that some locums had already threatened to withdraw their services.
“We are aware that some locum doctors have told hospitals that they may withdraw services following new tax rules coming into effect. While matters of pay and contracts are for individual trusts to resolve with those staff, our chief concern is patient safety.”
However, Goldsmith stated that doctors must consider their responsibility to the general public.
“Health services are under severe pressure and we know that providers and the medical profession are working hard to cope with demand. Any unreasonable withdrawal of staff may exacerbate that pressure, and we would expect doctors planning to withdraw their services would give sufficient notice in line with their contractual agreements.”
Previous reports have focused on the unreasonable amount of money being paid by the NHS to locum doctors, clearly a major problem in the health service.