SANTO DOMINGO, Dominican Republic (CNN) -- Doctors, nurses and other health professionals in the Dominican Republic went on a 24-hour strike Thursday at public and Social Security Institute hospitals over a wage dispute, news reports said.
Doctors will attend to only emergency cases and critical and intensive care patients, El Listin Diario newspaper reported on its Web site.
Medical professionals have been negotiating with the government for six months over a 40 percent raise, the newspaper said.
The strike, which is scheduled to end at 6 a.m. Friday, is affecting seven hospitals and medical centers, El Nuevo Diario newspaper's Web site said.
Strike leaders blamed the government, saying officials had not negotiated in good faith and had just been stalling.
The government health secretary acknowledged that the strike had affected hospitals but said many doctors and nurses remained at work, Listin Diario said.
Some patients, while expressing support for the doctors, lamented the lack of care.
"Doctors and professors should earn more money, because they are the ones who work most, but one wishes they wouldn't suspend service in the hospitals because we poor people need them," patient Milagros Garcia told Listin.
The striking doctors belong to the Dominican Medical College, a union commonly called CMD, the initials of its Spanish acronym. Also on strike were nurses, dentists, pharmacists and health technicians who work for the Public Health Ministry and the Dominican Social Security Institute. They also are asking for pay raises.
Doctors went on strike 10 times in 2008 over pay disputes.