Colleagues of three Greek doctors convicted over the death of a British holidaymaker were staging a 24-hour strike today in support of the medics.

The walkout by doctors happened at the Rhodes hospital where Christopher Rochester, 24, from Chester-le-Street, Co Durham, died three years ago.

Last Friday, Michael Sokorelos, George Karavolias and Sergios Pavlidis were convicted of manslaughter by negligence and sentenced to three years in prison.

Those sentences were suspended pending an appeal while two nurses also charged with manslaughter by neglect were cleared.

Christopher's stepfather George Cummings said today he was disgusted by the strike action after being told the news by the family's Greek solicitor Sotirios Manolkidis.

Mr Cummings said: ''Our aim was to ensure that anyone who stepped into that hospital got proper treatment but within a few days there's a walkout.

''The only people who will suffer are patients.

''Mr Manolkidis said it is a token walkout in a show of solidarity for the doctors and that it was wrong they were convicted. ''We are very concerned that if doctors at the hospital are not carrying out their duties then who is?

''There are still a lot of tourists on the island and what will happen if someone is rushed in like Christopher was?

''It's disgraceful that they are doing this.''

Mr Rochester died in Rhodes Hospital just hours after falling from an apartment balcony in June 2000.

Three doctors and two nurses were eventually put on trial after a lengthy campaign by his family and North Durham MP Kevan Jones.

Mr Jones said following last week's case he intended to lobby Parliament and the Foreign Office over the health and legal provision on the island.

After hearing of today's hospital strike he said: ''The judges agreed with the family that there was something seriously wrong with this hospital and the doctors should be addressing the problems, not holding strike actions.''