Junior doctor strikes will go ahead unless government drops imposition threat, warns BMA

BMA leaders have warned that planned junior doctor strikes could go ahead unless ministers drop their threat to impose a contract if a negotiated solution cannot be reached, despite a DH U-turn over talks through the conciliation service Acas.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt wrote to BMA chairman Dr Mark Porter on Wednesday to reverse his earlier refusal to restart junior doctor contract talks through the conciliation service.

Dr Porter welcomed the 'significant shift' by the health secretary, but warned that he would have to go further to avert strikes.

Dr Porter said: 'It is encouraging that Jeremy Hunt has made a significant shift in accepting the BMA’s offer of conciliatory talks through Acas, finally recognising the fact that trust has broken down between junior doctors and the government.

Junior doctor strikes

'However, junior doctors and the public, who by now will be used to Mr Hunt’s political game playing, will not be surprised by the fact that he has waited until now to do the right thing.

'We hope to start these talks as soon as possible in order to reach a collaborative agreement for the benefit of patients and the NHS. Importantly, Mr Hunt must finally remove his threat of imposition in order to defer Tuesday’s industrial action.'

In his letter to the BMA earlier on Wednesday, Mr Hunt insisted that the government has always been open to talks 'without preconditions'.

However, the BMA has said since the outset of a dispute that saw 98% of junior doctors vote for industrial action earlier this month that it will not return to talks with the government without guarantees that a contract will not be imposed.

Junior doctors plan to take action on three dates in December - one day of emergency care only on 1 December, followed by two full walkouts on 8 December and 16 December from 8am to 5pm.

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