Five-day junior doctor strike suspended after NHS England talks

The BMA has suspended plans for a five-day junior doctor strike next week after NHS England warned that it needed more time to arrange cover during the period of action.

Dr Ellen McCourt: junior doctors committee chair agrees to suspend first five-day strike
Dr Ellen McCourt: junior doctors committee chair agrees to suspend first five-day strike

But three further five-day strikes planned for October, November and December will go ahead unless the government drops plans to impose a new contract that was rejected by junior doctors, the BMA has warned.

With less than an hour to go until a planned statement in the House of Commons by health secretary Jeremy Hunt on Monday, the BMA said that while it gave more than the legally required seven days’ notice ahead of industrial action, 'NHS England has said that it needs more time to plan for escalated action'.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Dr Ellen McCourt said: 'Patient safety remains doctors’ primary concern which is why, following discussions with NHS England, the BMA has taken the decision to suspend next week’s industrial action.

Junior doctor strikes

'While the BMA provided more than the required notice, we have taken this decision to ensure the NHS has the necessary time to prepare and to put in place contingency plans to protect patient safety.

'Our hospitals are chronically understaffed, our NHS is desperately underfunded – we have to listen to our colleagues when they tell us that they need more time to keep patients safe.

'Future action is still avoidable. The BMA has repeatedly said it will call off further action if the government puts a halt to plans to force junior doctors to work under a contract they have rejected because they don’t believe it is good for the future of patient care or the profession.

'I urge Jeremy Hunt to put patients first, listen to our concerns and end this dispute through talks.'

A DH statement released after the suspension was confirmed said: 'As doctors’ representatives, the BMA should be putting patients first, not playing politics in a way that will be immensely damaging for vulnerable patients.

'While there are many pressures on the frontline, funding is at record levels, with the highest number of doctors employed in the history of the NHS. Co-operation not confrontation is the way forward to make sure patients get the best treatment and the NHS is there for people whenever they need it.'

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