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BMA and NHS still in talks over junior doctors' contracts

Junior doctors went on strike earlier in the month Credit: PA

The British Medical Association and the NHS have said talks are ongoing over the junior doctors' contracts and while "differences remain" the "focus now is on making progress".

The second junior doctors' strike on 26-28 January was suspended by the BMA last week.

Thousands of medical staff went on strike earlier in the month against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's proposed changes to junior doctor contracts.

A strike planned on 10 February could still go ahead if the negotiations stall.

The BMA and NHS Employers released a joint statement: "Talks are ongoing and the focus now is on making progress in those talks.

"Differences remain on some key areas but we are committed to addressing these privately in talks through Acas."

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Junior doctors' strike suspended, BMA says

Junior doctors went on strike for 24 hours last week in a dispute with the government over new contracts. Credit: PA

Next week's 48-hour junior doctors' strike has been suspended, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said.

The union said the decision has been made after talks between the government and the government on junior doctor working contracts continue at the conciliation service Acas.

The BMA’s aim has always been to deliver a safe, fair junior doctor contract through negotiated agreement. Following junior doctors’ clear message to the government during last week’s action, our focus is now on building on early progress made in the current set of talks.

On this basis, the BMA has today taken the decision to suspend the industrial action planned for 26-28 January, thereby giving Trusts as much notice as possible so as to avoid disruption to patients.

It is important to be clear, however, that differences still exist between the BMA and the Government on key areas, including the protection of patient safety and doctor’s working lives, and the recognition of unsocial hours. Significant, concrete progress will need to be made if future action, currently planned for 10 February, is to be averted.

– BMA junior doctor committee chair, Dr Johann Malawana

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Thousands of medical staff went on protest last week against Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt's proposed changes to junior doctor contracts.

A Department of Health spokesperson said last week's strike was "unnecessary" but said that it was "extremely welcome news".

It’s extremely welcome news that the BMA has suspended next week’s action, though as it stands emergency care will still be withdrawn in February.

In the end, the government and junior doctors want to do the same thing by improving patient care at weekends – and we look forward to further constructive discussions.

– Spokesperson for Department of Health

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Junior doctor strikes to go ahead next week

A strike of junior doctors will go ahead next week after talks with the government failed to resolve a dispute over pay and contracts, a group overseeing the talks has said.

The BMA had announced planned strike dates earlier this week Credit: PA

Talks between the British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS Employers were "constructive" but did not reach a deal that would have prevented planned strike action, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) said.

It means that three walkouts are set to take place starting from next week, potentially causing major disruption to the health service and forcing the cancellation of thousands of operations.

Junior doctors are provide emergency care only over a 48 hour period from 8am Tuesday to 8am on Thursday.

It will be followed by a further strike excluding emergency care from 26 to 28 January, and a full walkout from 8am to 5pm on 10 February.

BMA: Junior doctors have been left with no option but to strike

Junior doctors have been left with no option but to strike, the British Medical Association said.

Talks over pay and working conditions have failed to reach agreement and a 24-hour strike has been announced for 12 January 2016.

The BMA said unless progress is made with talks, the first strike will be followed by a 48-hour strike on 26 January and a third day of action on 10 February between 8am and 5pm.

The BMA has agreed to further talks so there is the possibility that the strikes could be averted.

The strikes would lead to disruption for thousands of NHS patients.

Suspended strike action in November led to the cancellation of thousands of operations, procedures and appointments.

After weeks of further negotiations, it is clear that the Government is still not taking junior doctors’ concerns seriously. Furthermore, the Government has repeatedly dragged its feet throughout this process, initially rejecting our offer of talks and failing to make significant movement during negotiations.

We sincerely regret the disruption that industrial action will cause, but junior doctors have been left with no option. It is because the Government’s proposals would be bad for patient care as well as junior doctors in the long-term that we are taking this stand.

– Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair
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