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BMA open to re-entering junior doctor talks following royal colleges’ plea

The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has urged the Government to withdraw its threat to impose a contract on junior doctors, and for the BMA to withdraw its threat to all-out strike – a suggestion welcomed by junior doctor leaders.

The statement, which is backed by all of the presidents of the medical royal colleges and faculties across the UK (22 in total), called the situation an ‘unprecedented crisis for the NHS’, and urged the parties to go back to negotiations.

The head of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee said this was a ’sensible idea’.

It comes after the BMA announced it would hold an all-out strike on 26 and 27 April, in which junior doctors would not provide emergency care.

The colleges’ statement said: ’This is a time of unprecedented crisis for the NHS. With this in mind and in the spirit of placing patient welfare first and foremost we are writing in response to the escalation of the junior doctor’s dispute in England.

’We call on both sides in the dispute to step back from the brink by suspending imposition of the contract and the all-out strike and urge a return to negotiations.

’We believe that this is essential if the current impasse is to be broken and progress made in resolving this extremely damaging stand-off for the benefit of all NHS stakeholders, particularly our patients and trainees.’

Tweeting in response, JDC chair Dr Johann Malawana said: ‘Sensible idea. Suspension of imposition [and] action best for all parties.’

Reacting to the all-out strike announcement last week, RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said the college was ’shocked it has come to this’.

Urging ‘both sides’ to ’get back round the table to find a resolution’, she added: ’As stated in the GMC guidance, the safety of our patients is paramount and we expect doctors and NHS managers to work together to put in place alternative arrangements to ensure that anyone who needs emergency care receives it.’

Although it has yet to publish the final terms of the new junior doctor contract, the Government has said it will impose the removal of ’unsociable hours’ pay premiums from Saturdays and weekday evenings.

In the meantime, junior doctors are planning a 48-hour walk-out from planned care on 6 April and, for the first time in the history of the NHS, full withdrawal of labour between 8am and 5pm on 26 and 27 April.