The talks between NHS Employers, the Department of Health (DH), and the British Medical Association (BMA) over the proposed junior doctors contract reconvened this morning after the Christmas break.
There are currently unconfirmed reports that NHS Employers and the DH gave the BMA an offer this morning, which they must respond to within 48 hours.
Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, previously gave two offers to the BMA, and in November 98% of 37,000 junior doctors in England voted to strike in protest at the government’s decision to impose a contract on them that they regard as unfair and unsafe.
A leading figure in the campaign against the new contract warned the Independent that the industrial action “will last into the summer and, if necessary, throughout the year”.
However, a spokesperson from the BMA called doubt on these claims, and told The Commissioning Review that “we are focusing on now, and trying to get an agreement, we are certainly not speculating on how long strike action will last.
“People are talking as though strike action is going ahead, but we haven’t given action and will do everything we can to avoid a strike,” they added.
If the BMA choose to strike, the last day of action must end on or before 13 January.
Strikes must ordinarily occur within four weeks of a strike ballot of the BMA’s members, however before Christmas the cut-off date was extended by another four weeks to allow more time for negotiation.