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extremely welcome news that the BMA has suspended next week’s action, though as it stands emergency care will still be withdrawn in February.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