Medical colleges urge BMA to suspend all-out junior doctor strikes

Medical colleges have called on the BMA to suspend plans for all-out strikes over the imposition of a new junior doctor contract, warning that patient welfare must come first.

Earlier this month the BMA revealed its decision to escalate industrial action over the junior doctor contract dispute, calling the first all-out strike by junior doctors in NHS history.

Last week, RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker said she was 'shocked' that the dispute had reached this point, but stopped short of calling on the BMA to back down.

But today the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AoMRC) has warned against the move. In a statement, it urged the government to drop its plan to impose the contract unilaterally, and called on the the BMA to step back from plans to escalate industrial action.

Junior doctor strikes

The AoMRC statement says: 'We call on both sides in the dispute to step back from the brink by suspending imposition of the contract and the all-out strike and urge a return to negotiations.

'We believe that this is essential if the current impasse is to be broken and progress made in resolving this extremely damaging stand-off for the benefit of all NHS stakeholders, particularly our patients and trainees.' 

On Thursday, Dr Baker said: 'We are shocked it has come to this. We continue to support the vital role our junior doctors play and hope that both sides will get back round the table to find a resolution. The actions of the Government are crucial in achieving this.

'We all depend on the NHS, everyone is a patient or a potential patient. As stated in the GMC guidance, the safety of our patients is paramount and we expect doctors and NHS managers to work together to put in place alternative arrangements to ensure that anyone who needs emergency care receives it.'

Junior doctor contract talks

Reacting to the AoMRC statement, a DH spokeswoman said: 'The escalation of strike action by the BMA will inevitably put patients in harm's way and as the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges has said would be an unprecedented crisis for the NHS. If the BMA had agreed to negotiate on Saturday pay, as they promised to do through ACAS in November, we'd have a negotiated agreement by now — instead, we had no choice but to proceed with proposals recommended and supported by NHS leaders – which were 90% agreed with the BMA.'

Announcing the escalation in strike action earlier this month, BMA junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana said: 'No junior doctor wants to take this action but the government has left us with no choice. In refusing to lift imposition and listen to junior doctors’ outstanding concerns, the government will bear direct responsibility for the first full walkout of doctors in this country.'

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