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BMA agrees to re-enter talks over junior doctor contracts

The dispute between the government and the BMA led to strikes earlier this year Credit: Reuters

The British Medical Association (BMA) has agreed to re-enter negotiations with the government over junior doctor contracts.

This follows a proposal by the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges calling for negotiations to restart.

The BMA has agreed to re-enter talks with the government on outstanding issues in this dispute, which include, but are not limited to, unsocial hours.

Junior doctors’ concerns extend far beyond pay, and our principle in talks will be to deliver a fair contract that does not discriminate against women or any other group, one which addresses the recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS and which provides the basis for delivering a world-class health service.

The BMA will also call for any contract offer – agreed or not – to be put to a referendum of junior doctors, as is usual following a contract negotiation.

We hope that with both parties back around the negotiating table, real progress can now be made to ending this dispute through talks.

– Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair
There have been a wave of protests in recent months.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said: "We welcome the BMA's decision to return to talks, and have always been clear that we want to see a negotiated solution to this dispute that delivers the seven-day NHS we promised the British people in last year's election."

The BMA's decision comes after a wave of industrial action by junior doctors in the last few months.

The action saw thousands of operations cancelled when negotiations reached an impasse, with Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt threatening to impose the contract.

Mr Hunt has insisted that discussions should not concern 90% of the issues already agreed but should focus instead on outstanding contractual issues.