Junior doctors in England have called off their planned 48-hour strike, which was due to start on 26 January 2016, after resuming negotiations at the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS).
The British Medical Association (BMA) announced on 19 January 2016 that it was suspending the industrial action while talks with the Department of Health and NHS Employers – which restarted on 14 January 2016 – continue.
However, Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, warns: “It is important to be clear… that differences still exist between the BMA and the government on key areas, including the protection of patient safety and doctor’s working lives and the recognition of unsocial hours. Significant, concrete progress will need to be made if future action, currently planned for 10 February 2016, is to be averted.”
On 12 January 2016, 38,000 junior doctors went on strike for 24 hours – the first industrial action of its kind for 40 years – in their dispute with the government over their new contract. The decision to offer emergency care only led to the cancellation of 1,425 inpatient operations and procedures, while 2,535 outpatient appointments were also cancelled.
In a statement released on 19 January 2016, the Department of Health described the strike as “unnecessary” because negotiations were still ongoing.
“It’s extremely welcome news that the BMA has suspended next week’s action, though as it stands emergency care will still be withdrawn in February,” the statement continues. “In the end, the government and junior doctors want to do the same thing by improving patient care at weekends – and we look forward to further constructive discussions.”