Junior doctor contract talks extended in bid to break deadlock

Talks between government negotiators and the BMA over the junior doctor contract dispute will continue until Wednesday next week, the conciliation service Acas has announced.

Junior doctors' leaders and the government have been in talks since Monday in a bid to end a dispute that led to the first ever full walkout by doctors in NHS history last month.

Acas chairman Sir Brendan Barber, who has chaired the talks, said 'real progress' had been made in talks between the team led by BMA junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana and the NHS Employers and government team led by Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust chief executive Sir David Dalton.

But he said more time was needed to conclude talks. The BMA has agreed to suspend plans for any further strike action, and the government to suspend work towards imposing the new junior doctor contract until talks are complete.

Junior doctor strikes

Both sides have agreed to make no public statement on the contract talks, which Sir Brendan called a 'final opportunity' to break the deadlock.

He said: 'I was very grateful to health secretary Jeremy Hunt and the BMA leadership for accepting my invitation to talks. Both parties have committed themselves over the whole of this week to highly intensive negotiations in an effort to resolve this long running dispute.

'The talks have been conducted in a constructive and positive atmosphere. In my judgment some real progress has been made to address outstanding issues.

'I reached the view, however, in the last 24 hours that a limited amount of additional time would be needed to give the process a chance of reaching a successful conclusion. I proposed to the health secretary and to the BMA that the talks should be continued up until next Wednesday, and to allow this to happen, that each side should renew the commitments they made for this process to start.

'These were that the government would suspend any action towards the implementation of the proposed new contract, and that the BMA would suspend any decision on further industrial action. I am grateful that both parties have agreed to this proposal.

'This is a strictly time limited extension and represents a final opportunity to find an agreement.'

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