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Junior doctors suspend industrial action

Timetable for industrial action extended by four weeks while talks progress at Acas

Ingrid Torjesen

Tuesday, 01 December 2015

Late last night an announcement was made that the industrial action by junior doctors, due to commence at 8am this morning, would not take place.

Talks have been ongoing at Acas, between the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health, to try to resolve the dispute. The group put out a joint statement saying that they had “all agreed that a return to direct and meaningful negotiations in relation to a new contract for junior doctors is the right way forward”.

The statement says that the BMA has agreed to suspend all proposed strike action - the first industrial action was due to begin this morning followed by two full strikes later in December. In return 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, and the Department of Health has agreed 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,” the statement says.

The current cost-neutral November 2015 offer will form the basis for further negotiation. “Contractual safeguards for safety are paramount,” the statement adds, “and we therefore commit to develop a jointly selected and supported guardian role to oversee the hours of work of doctors in training and ensuring appropriate payment for hours worked outside planned work schedules.

“A commitment is also made to define propositions on work schedules, including the number of hours designated as plain time ensuring that doctors in training would not be expected to work consecutive weekends, and how time for administrative duties and training should be recognised.”

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