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Junior doctors’ industrial action called off by BMA

Junior doctor leaders have announced that they are suspending next week’s 48-hour industrial action following ‘progress’ in talks with Government.

The BMA made the announcement on the 26-28 January action to give trusts notice so they can avoid disruption for patients.

However, it has said that there needed to be ‘concrete progress’ in the talks to avert the potential full strike planned for 10 February.

Action planned for December had previously been called off, with the Government and the BMA agreeing to continue with talks through the conciliation service Acas.

However, junior doctors said they were going to take further action this month and next month after the Government continued to deem Saturday and evening hours as ‘sociable hours’, meaning junior doctors those shifts would receive the same pay as for weekday shifts.

But the BMA has said that there has been ‘early progress’ in the current round of talks being taken through Acas.

BMA Junior Doctor Committee chair Dr Johann Malawana said: ’The BMA’s aim has always been to deliver a safe, fair junior doctor contract through negotiated agreement. Following junior doctors’ clear message to the Government during last week’s action, our focus is now on building on early progress made in the current set of talks.

’On this basis, the BMA has today taken the decision to suspend the industrial action planned for 26-28 January, thereby giving trusts as much notice as possible so as to avoid disruption to patients.

’It is important to be clear, however, that differences still exist between the BMA and the Government on key areas, including the protection of patient safety and doctor’s working lives, and the recognition of unsocial hours. Significant, concrete progress will need to be made if future action, currently planned for 10 February, is to be averted.’

A DH spokesperson said: ’The strike that took place last week was unnecessary while talks are ongoing, so it’s extremely welcome news that the BMA has suspended next week’s action, though as it stands emergency care will still be withdrawn in February. In the end, the government and junior doctors want to do the same thing by improving patient care at weekends – and we look forward to further constructive discussions.’

NHS England claimed that 39% of the junior doctor workforce worked on the first day of industrial action on 11 January, and that patient care has been disrupted, with 1,279 inpatient and 2,175 day case elective procedures having to be cancelled.

What is the dispute about?

Junior Doctor Strike 2016

Junior Doctor Strike 2016

The dispute arose over an overhaul of junior doctors contract which is seeking to redefine Saturdays and evenings from 10am to 10 pm as ‘sociable hours’ in a bid to force hospitals to rota more doctors at weekends by removing unsociable hours payments.

The BMA says the move would lead to junior doctors working unsafe hours that could harm them and patients. The Government has disputed these claims, as well as a suggestion that changes could lead to a pay cut of as much as one third

Read more: The strike is our only option left