Junior doctors and the government will continue talks next week in a “final opportunity” to reach an agreement to their “difficult dispute” over new contracts.
Junior doctors and the Department of Health resumed their talks on Monday aster talks broke down in February.
They agreed to get back round the negotiating table after the
Academy of Medical Royal Colleges called for them to take a five-day pause in their dispute.
After talks broke down in February over changes to the junior doctors’ contracts, including weekend working, health secretary Jeremy Hunt said he would introduce the contract in August.
Junior doctors have staged a series of strikes, including last month’s withdrawal of emergency cover, which was unprecedented in the NHS’s history.
The latest round of talks are being led by Sir Brendan Barber of arbitration service ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service).
The Government and NHS Employers’ team is led by Sir David Dalton and the junior doctors committee chairman Johann Malawana is leading the British Medical Association’s (BMA’s) negotiating team.
Discussions will resume on Monday and will continue until next Wednesday (May 18).
Barber said: “The talks have been conducted in a constructive and positive atmosphere. In my judgement real progress has been made to address some outstanding issues.”
He said he decided yesterday that extra time was needed “to give the process a chance of reaching a successful conclusion”.
The government has agreed to renew its commitment to suspending the contract’s introduction while talks continue.
The BMA has also agreed to suspend any further industrial action.
Barber added: “This is a strictly time limited extension and represents a final opportunity to find an agreement as the basis for the resolution of this difficult dispute.”
He said neither side would comment publicly on the talks and the issues under review.
Both sides have also agreed not to make “hostile or negative comments about the other parties involved”.