Hunt rejects BMA offer of conciliation talks after 98% of junior doctors back strikes

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has rejected the BMA's offer of conciliation talks with the independent arbitration service Acas ahead of planned junior doctor strike action.

Mr Hunt told the BBC the government would not rule out conciliation talks ‘at some stage’, but that the current proposal had already been through the independent pay review process and the BMA must come back to negotiations first.

‘We are happy to look at that possibility at a later stage,' he said. When asked ‘why not now?’, by BBC political editor Laura Kuenssberg, he said: ‘Because we have some independent proposals. You can’t keep going back.’ The right thing now, he said, was to discuss the independent pay review body’s proposals.

The health secretary said the overwhelming support for strike action by juniors was the result of a ‘campaign of misinformation’ by the BMA.

Junior doctor strikes

The 98% vote by junior doctors for strike action was, he said,  'very, very disappointing' but he insisted the government’s contract offer had been ‘misrepresented’.

‘We put forward a very fair offer for doctors, which will see pay go up for three-quarters of junior doctors. We wanted to talk about this to them, but in the end they have chosen to strike so we will have to put in contingency plans,' said Mr Hunt.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander told BBC Radio 5 Live it was ‘deeply irresponsible’ for Mr Hunt to refuse the union’s proposal.

Call for arbitration

Ms Alexander said while nobody wanted to see a strike ‘I can understand why junior doctors feel industrial action is one of the only ways left for them to get their point across.’

Mr Hunt, she said, ‘needs to take responsibility for the fact this is the first time in 40 years that junior doctors have voted to take such significant industrial action’.

Ms Alexander said there was an ‘urgent need’ for independent arbitration.

‘I am hugely concerned to hear Jeremy Hunt is dismissing the suggestion of going to Acas. There are 10 days between now and this industrial action and I think it’s deeply irresponsible to say you don’t want to bring in an independent mediator to try and do everything to find a way of avoiding this industrial action and finding a negotiated settlement,' she said.

Have you registered with us yet?

Register now to enjoy more articles and free email bulletins


Already registered?

Sign in

Just published

GMC sign

Gaps in GMC referral and exam pass rates for ethnic minority doctors falling, says GMC

Gaps in fitness to practise referrals and exam pass rates between doctors from white...

Pharmacy shelves

Menopause prescribing advice updated as HRT shortage continues

The British Menopause Society has recommended alternative options for prescribers...

GP sign

Using IIF cash to top up staff pay risks major gap in practice finances, warn accountants

GP practices could face a major cash shortfall in 2024/25 if they use investment...

Paxlovid – one of the treatments available for COVID-19

GPs could play bigger role in prescribing COVID-19 treatments from end of June

GPs could play a greater role in prescribing COVID-19 treatments to patients at risk...

Physiotherapist works with patient

Is the government right to claim its 26,000 additional roles target has been met?

Prime minister Rishi Sunak claimed last month that the government had met its manifesto...

Statement of fitness for work

GP training: Tips for completing FIT notes

GP trainer Dr Pipin Singh provides advice for trainees on how to complete fit notes,...