Strike action by junior doctors has been suspended

Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire

Picture: Lynne Cameron/PA Wire - Credit: PA

Strike action by thousands of junior doctors has been suspended so talks can continue, the Government and the British Medical Association (BMA) have announced.

All three strikes planned by the BMA - including a walkout tomorrow - have been suspended in order to return negotiations.

In return, the Government has agreed to suspend its threat to impose a new contract on doctors.

If the fresh round of talks break down, the BMA still has the right to hold its strikes before a deadline of January 13.

A spokesman for the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas), which has been hosting the talks, said: 'Following five days of productive talks under the auspices of Acas, the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health have reached an agreement.


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'Acas is pleased that the talks have been held in a constructive manner and cooperative spirit between the parties, that will allow an improvement in industrial relations.'

Doctors were poised to take action on three days, providing emergency care only for 24 hours from 8am on Tuesday followed by full walkouts from 8am to 5pm on December 8 and 16.

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The action would cause mass disruption to the NHS, with hospitals forced to cancel outpatient clinics and non-urgent operations.

NHS England estimates suggest that over 4,000 operations and procedures have already been scrapped for Tuesday.

The basis for fresh negotiations is the Government's offer from early November, including an 11pc rise in basic pay for junior doctors.

This is offset by plans to cut the number of hours on a weekend that junior doctors can claim extra pay for 'unsocial' hours.

Currently, 7pm to 7am Monday to Friday and the whole of Saturday and Sunday attract a premium rate of pay.

Under the new plans, a higher rate would run from 10pm to 7am Monday to Friday, and from 7pm on Saturday evenings - a concession on the previous 10pm.

Mr Hunt has argued that, under the new deal, just 1% of doctors would lose pay and those would be limited to doctors working too many hours already.

The BMA has said the increase in basic pay is misleading due to the changes to pay for unsocial hours. It also has other concerns over flexible pay plans for some specialities.

Mr Hunt told MPs that NHS England had estimated that - across all three days of planned action - up to 20,000 patients would have operations cancelled, including around 1,500 cataracts operations, 900 skin lesion removals, 630 hip and knee operations, 400 spine operations, 250 gall bladder removals and nearly 300 tonsil and grommets operations.

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