Health secretary Jeremy Hunt says the Government wants to create a seven-day NHS, but doctors' union the British Medical Association says he has no answer about how extra weekend care will be staffed and funded.
Having announced it wanted to change terms and conditions, the Department of Health began talks with the BMA, but they broke down in 2014. By the summer of 2015, Mr Hunt said he could wait no longer and would seek to impose a deal.
The BMA held a ballot on strike action and 98 per cent voted in favour.
There were further talks with conciliation service Acas, but there was no agreement and the Government said in February it would be imposing the contract from this summer. Six strikes then went ahead.
Then in May, after a week-and-a-half of talks, it was announced that a deal had been reached:
- The rise in basic pay would be reduced from 13.5 per cent to between 10 and 11 per cent.
- In return a different system was agreed for weekend work. Instead of Saturdays and Sundays being divided up between normal and unsocial hours, a system of supplements would be paid depending on how many weekends a doctor worked.
The BMA officially endorsed the new arrangements, but members rejected the contract by 58 per cent to 42 per cent.
The union says junior doctors have been left with "no choice" but to start fresh strike action .
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the forthcoming strike by junior doctors is both "perplexing and disappointing".
Speaking to Good Morning Britain on Thursday, he said: "It's devastating news for many people. It's going to cause a lot of misery for a lot of people.
"Our one promise was that we wanted a proper seven-day service, so [people] can be confident no matter what day of the week they're admitted to hospital, they're going to get the same high quality care.
"We have an honest difference of opinion with them about how to deliver that seven-day service, but the way to resolve that difference is to sit around the table and talk.
"It's cooperation and dialogue, not confrontation and strikes... I thought we were making progress, and that's why I find it so perplexing and disappointing to see that we're going to have to deal with this huge strike."
Doctors' union the British Medical Association has said it will call off industrial action if the government agrees not to impose new contracts.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said in July that the contracts would be enforced after junior doctors voted not to accept them, despite agreement with the BMA.
Dr Ellen McCourt, chair of the BMA junior doctors' committee, said: "Junior doctors still have serious concerns with the contract, particularly that it will fuel the current workforce crisis, and that it fails to treat all doctors fairly.
"Genuine efforts to resolve the dispute through talks have been met with an unwillingness to engage and, at times, deafening silence from the Secretary of State, leaving junior doctors with no choice but to take further action.
"We have a simple ask of the Government: stop the imposition. If it agrees to do this, junior doctors will call off industrial action.
"We want to resolve this dispute through talks, but in forcing through a contract that junior doctors have rejected and which they don't believe is good for their patients or themselves, the Government has left them with no other choice."
Junior doctors are to stage five days of industrial action in a row over the imposition of controversial new contracts for medics, the British Medical Association (BMA) has announced.
Here are the key developments:
- The action will take place in England between September 12 and 16 between the hours of 8am and 5pm
- This action will be followed by 'further dates' which are yet to be confirmed
- Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said doctors are being 'very confrontational'
- The Department of Health criticised the strike and accused the BMA of 'playing politics in a way that will be immensely damaging for vulnerable patients'
- The BMA said it will call off industrial action if the Government agrees not to impose the new contracts
- Six strikes have already taken place across England during the dispute
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