Junior doctor strikes called off

Junior doctors on the picket line earlier this year outside Chichester's St. Richard's Hospital
Junior doctors on the picket line earlier this year outside Chichester's St. Richard's Hospital

The British Medical Association has announced a suspension of further junior doctor strikes across England.

A series of five-day industrial action was planned in October, November and December over changes to junior medics’ contracts.

But following feedback from doctors, patients and the public, and discussions with NHS England about the ability of the NHS to maintain a safe service, action has been called off.

Planned strikes for September had already been halted.

Dr Ellen McCourt, the newly elected chair of the BMA junior doctor committee, said: “In light of feedback from doctors, patients and the public, and following a passionate, thoughtful and wide-ranging debate amongst junior doctors, the BMA has taken the decision to suspend planned industrial action.

“We still oppose the imposition of the contract and are now planning a range of other actions in order to resist it, but patient safety is doctors’ primary concern and so it is right that we listen and respond to concerns about the ability of the NHS to maintain a safe service.

“We hope the government will seize this opportunity to engage with junior doctors and listen to the range of voices from across the NHS raising concerns about doctors’ working lives and the impact of the contract on patient care.

“If the NHS cannot attract and keep those doctors on whose dedication and professional skills it relies, there will be no recognisable health service in England.

Dr McCourt added: “Our fight does not end here. For many people this whole dispute has turned on how the NHS will assure quality care over seven days.

“It has highlighted the need for an open and honest debate led by the BMA on how this will be achieved.

“We call on our colleagues across the medical profession, other healthcare professionals, and the government and patient groups to engage with junior doctors on this.”

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