New government holds 'positive' meeting with junior doctors as no strike action planned

Credit: PA

Junior doctors in England held “collaborative talks” with the government, medics have said as they hailed a “positive first step” towards ending their long-running dispute over pay.

More negotiations are expected to take place next week, Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Robert Laurenson, co-chairmen of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) Junior Doctors’ Committee have said.

They said that there are no plans for more strike action “at the moment” as talks progress.

It comes as Health and Social Care Secretary Wes Streeting said that the talks mark an “important reset moment” in relations between the government and junior doctors in England.

After the meeting, Dr Trivedi said he was pleased to meet Streeting so soon after the general election.

He described the meeting as "positive" and said they have already agreed to meet again next week" to further discuss the next steps.

“Today we talked a little bit about some of the roadblocks that have prevented us from progressing so far, and how we can navigate through those to reach a resolution."

Dr Laurenson added that while Streeting was keen to learn about what was going wrong, he warned: "I don’t think we can place of value, or a certainty on how quickly things are going to take to resolve, or what might needs to happen to make things resolve".

“There were talks about reform, and we’re interested to hear what that might pan out to be. This is a complex negotiation and it’s going to take some time."

Dr Robert Laurenson, co-chair of the BMA's junior doctors' committee and Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of the junior doctors' committee. Credit: PA

Junior doctors in England say their pay has been cut by more than a quarter over the last 15 years and have called for a 35% increase, but Labour says it cannot afford to meet this demand.

Asked if he was optimistic about the talks, Mr Streeting said: “Optimistic? Yes.

“This is an important reset moment in the relationship between junior doctors and their government.”

He added: “The reason we were so blunt in opposition wasn’t simply about delivering a tough message, but about showing them the respect I think they are due, and a key ingredient of respect is honesty.

“Secondly, beyond pay, there are a whole range of issues about how junior doctors are treated by their employer which I am genuinely angry about – in terms of their placements, their rotations.” Health leaders urged the government to resolve the dispute as a priority after NHS England said 61,989 appointments, procedures and operations had been postponed as a result of the latest walkout from June 27 to July 2.

The strike was the 11th by junior doctors in 20 months.

Since December 2022 there have been strikes across a number of staff groups in the NHS including nurses, other doctor groups, physiotherapists and paramedics.

Collectively the industrial action has led to nearly 1.5 million appointments, procedures and operations being postponed, at an estimated cost to the NHS of more than £3 billion.

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