The junior doctors strike has been suspended on all three days that it was planned, after the Department of Health and the British Medical Association (BMA) reached agreement in the final hours before the strike was set to begin.
The strikes were due on 1 December excluding emergency care, and complete 8am-5pm walk-outs on 8 December and 16 December.
ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) released a statement saying that “Following productive talks under the auspices of ACAS, the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health are all agreed that a return to direct and meaningful negotiations in relation to a new contract for junior doctors is the right way forward.” NHS Employers are acting on behalf of all junior doctor employers during the negotiations.
However, thousands of operations were cancelled, so hospitals across England look set to face major disruption after the strike today was called off.
Moreover the agreement is temporary and the BMA could commence strike action between now and 13 January 2016. The joint statement read: “All parties are committed to reaching an agreement that improves safety for patients and doctors and therefore NHS Employers have agreed to extend the timeframe for the BMA to commence any industrial action by four weeks to 13 January 2016 at 17:00, to allow negotiations to progress.
“Within that timetable, the BMA agrees to temporarily suspend its proposed strike action and the Department of Health agrees similarly to temporarily suspend implementation of a contract without agreement. All parties acknowledge that they share responsibility for the safety of patients and junior doctors, which must be paramount. In reaching this agreement to return to negotiations the BMA acknowledge the wish of NHS Employers and the Department of Health to agree and implement a new contract without undue delay.
“All sides wish to achieve a contractual framework that provides fair reward and a safe working environment for junior doctors throughout the week.”