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Junior doctor dispute to go to talks at Acas

Government agrees to talks at conciliation service as first strike date looms

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 26 November 2015

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has agreed to talks at the Acas, after initially rejecting the BMA’s offer of talks at the conciliation service when the results of the junior doctors’ ballot were announced last week.

Mr Hunt confirmed in a letter to the BMA that Government officials and NHS Employers will start talks via Acas.

BMA council chair Mark Porter said that the talks would start as soon as possible, but that Mr Hunt must remove his threat of imposing a contract on doctors in training in England to defer industrial action. The first day of industrial action begins at 8.00am on Tuesday 1 December and will last for 24 hours. Junior doctors will provide emergency cover, but later in December two further days of full strike action are planned.

Dr Porter said: “It is encouraging that Jeremy Hunt has made a significant shift in accepting the BMA’s offer of conciliatory talks through Acas, finally recognising the fact that trust has broken down between junior doctors and the government.

“However, junior doctors and the public, who by now will be used to Jeremy Hunt’s political game playing, will not be surprised by the fact that he has waited until now to do the right thing.

“We hope to start these talks as soon as possible in order to reach a collaborative agreement for the benefit of patients and the NHS. Importantly, Jeremy Hunt must finally remove his threat of imposition in order to defer Tuesday’s industrial action.”

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: “Employers across the NHS will welcome a return to discussions with the BMA, working with ACAS conciliation services. I remain hopeful that through our joint endeavours we can end this dispute, and modernise the contracts for doctors whilst also addressing their concerns."

Picture: 17 October 2015- Junior doctors marching in London streets to campaign against NHS contract changes. Credit: William Perugini / Shutterstock.com

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