Junior doctors call off 48-hour strike

British Medical Association members cancel plans to take industrial action next week

Junior doctors have suspended the 48-hour strike planned for next week, as talks continue over their contract dispute with the government.

The doctors' union the British Medical Association announced the suspension of the industrial action, which was due to start on January 26.

The junior doctors and the government are in dispute over a proposed new NHS contract, with disagreement on issues including unsocial hours pay and working hours. Doctors staged a walkout last week and were supported by nurses on the picket lines at English hospitals.

Talks between the BMA and the government at the conciliation service Acas continue.

BMA junior doctors' committee chair Johann Malawana said: ‘The BMA’s aim has always been to deliver a safe, fair junior doctor contract through negotiated agreement.

‘Following the junior doctors’ clear message to the government during last week’s action, our focus is on building on early progress made in the current set of talks.’

Dr Malawana said differences still exist between the BMA and the government on ‘the protection of patient safety and doctors' working lives, and the recognition of unsocial hours’.

He added significant progress would have to be made to avert another planned strike on February 10.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'The strike last week was unnecessary while talks are ongoing, so it is welcome news that the BMA has suspended next week’s action, though as it stands emergency care will still be withdrawn in February.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.'

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