BMA suspends junior doctor strike as talks resume

1 Dec 15

The junior doctors’ strike, set to go ahead in England today, has been called off after the British Medical Association said agreement had been reached to resume negotiations over contract changes.

Junior doctors were due to provide only emergency care for 24 hours from 8am today in a dispute over changes to pay arrangements and working hours proposed by the Department of Health.

However, the BMA said initial discussions at the conciliation service Acas had led the government to promise not to impose the new contract on trainees.

In an email to members yesterday evening, BMA council chair Dr Mark Porter said: “Following conciliatory talks with NHS Employers and the Department of Health, we have agreed to suspend industrial action in England, which was due to begin at 8am tomorrow. The government has also agreed not to proceed unilaterally with the introduction of a new contract.

“Today’s decision is in the best interests of patients, doctors and the NHS. It is unfortunate that we have not been able to reach agreement sooner but patients, doctors and everyone else who works across the NHS will be pleased that in the end the right decision has been made.”

In January, all parties involved in the negotiations will decide whether meaningful progress is being made, he said, when the BMA will need to consider whether industrial action should be reinstated.

“The coming weeks will be challenging, but it is vital that we do all we can to come to a negotiated agreement. I know that you will continue to support us in this, as you have over the past few months. We are one profession. We stand together,” he added.

A statement released by ACAS said talks have been held in a constructive manner and cooperative spirit between the parties. 

A memorandum of understanding has been reached to underpin negotiations, the service said, with the Department of Health’s current cost-neutral November 2015 pay offer being used as the basis for further negotiation.

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