BMA enters fresh talks on junior doctor contract as DH suspends imposition

Fresh talks between junior doctors and the government will get underway on Monday after ministers agreed to suspend the imposition of a new contract for five days.

Junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana (Photo: Neil Roberts)
Junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana (Photo: Neil Roberts)

The BMA’s junior doctors committee (JDC) said on Saturday it would go ahead with renewed talks, which will be conducted by the conciliation service Acas, after the DH agreed to a proposal to suspend the imposition for five days.

The government initially indicated it was too late to suspend the process of introducing the contract as suggested by the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges last week. Ministers later agreed to the plan on condition that the BMA would discuss the outstanding points of disagreement, unsocial hours and Saturday pay.

The government has previously refused BMA proposals to remove the threat of imposition to allow new talks to begin and avert further industrial action.

Junior doctor strikes

Following a JDC meeting on Saturday, where junior doctors leaders were prepared to discuss possible indefinite strike action, the union said it would go ahead with new talks today.

In a letter to the JDC in response to an eleventh hour appeal to avert last month’s full walk-outs. health secretary Jeremy Hunt said it was not now possible to change or delay the introduction of the contract 'without creating unacceptable disruption'.

JDC chairman Dr Johann Malawana said the union had agreed to re-enter talks to discuss outstanding issues which included unsocial hours among other issues.

‘Junior doctors’ concerns extend far beyond pay, and our principle in talks will be to deliver a fair contract that does not discriminate against women or any other group, one which addresses the recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS and which provides the basis for delivering a world-class health service,' he said.

Junior doctor contract

‘The BMA will also call for any contract offer – agreed or not – to be put to a referendum of junior doctors, as is usual following a contract negotiation.

‘We hope that with both parties back around the negotiating table, real progress can now be made to ending this dispute through talks.’

A DH spokesperson said the health secretary would suspend the introduction of the new contract for a five-day period to facilitate the talks. 

‘We are very pleased that Sir David Dalton, a highly respected independent NHS leader, will be returning to lead the government's negotiating team on the small number of outstanding issues that separated both parties in February.’

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