RCGP to meet Jeremy Hunt as junior doctor industrial action looms

The RCGP has confirmed it has been asked to meet health secretary Jeremy Hunt to discuss the potential impact of industrial action by junior doctors, but the DH has denied trying to force royal colleges to support its position in the dispute.

Jeremy Hunt: meeting royal colleges over impact of potential industrial action by junior doctors
Jeremy Hunt: meeting royal colleges over impact of potential industrial action by junior doctors

In a post on social media, BMA junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana said medical royal college leaders had been summoned by the health secretary and would be asked to condemn strike action. ‘They are effectively having their royal charters threatened if they don't back the government,' wrote Dr Malawana.

RCGP chairwoman Dr Maureen Baker confirmed she had been invited to meet Mr Hunt next week, but that the issue of the royal charter had not been mentioned.

Dr Baker said: 'We have been asked to attend a meeting with the secretary of state for health next week. The issue of our royal charter has not been mentioned. If we do hear from our colleagues from other colleges that this is the case, then we will think again about attending the meeting.

Junior doctor dispute

‘We meet with the secretary of state and the health spokespeople from other political parties on a regular basis to discuss a variety of issues and have no reason to think that this will be any different.

‘Junior doctors are the future of our profession and we support them wholeheartedly – whatever the outcome of the ballot on industrial action. We will make this clear when we meet the secretary of state next week.’

A DH statement said: ‘It is absolutely ridiculous to suggest that the government could somehow summon independent royal colleges to force them to support a particular position. The BMA has continually refused to negotiate and has put patients at risk by asking junior doctors to support industrial action.

‘As the public would expect, the health secretary will in the coming days be meeting with royal colleges and a wide range of other organisations to get independent advice about the potential impact of any industrial action.’

Other royal colleges have also confirmed they have been called in for talks with the health secretary over the potential impact of industrial action by junior doctors.

The DH has made clear the health secretary has no powers to remove royal charter status from organisations. Royal charters are awarded on the advice of the Privy Council.

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