Junior doctors and Government urged to break strike deadlock


Junior doctors and the Government have been encouraged to break the deadlock and resume negotiations over the medics' long-running pay dispute.

Senior medical staff have called on both sides to end the stand-off after months of wrangling, which has led to strike action and thousands of cancelled operations.

The imposition of the new contract for junior doctors has been described by those in the profession as potentially having a lasting and damaging effect on patient care, deepening the crisis in the NHS.

Junior doctors and supporters of the BMA strikes wear stickers over their mouths as they sit down in a silent protest

Now the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges (AOMRC), which speaks on standards of care and medical education, has called for a five-day pause in the process of imposing new contracts, and a five-day suspension of the threat of further industrial action, enabling talks to resume with the Government.

AOMRC chairman Professor Dame Sue Bailey said: "A five-day pause without 'ifs, buts or maybes' and with both sides in the dispute publicly committing to a serious attempt to reach a resolution through genuine dialogue is obviously the only way out of this impasse.

"Before either side does anything else, all the 22 Medical Royal Colleges and Faculties are unanimously calling on the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt and the chairman of the British Medical Association's junior doctors' committee Johann Malawana to take a deep breath, dial down the rhetoric and get back to the table for talks facilitated, perhaps, by a senior independent figure."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt

Last week junior doctors went on an all-out strike for two working days. For the first time in the history of the NHS, junior doctors in England stopped providing emergency care during the walkouts.

More than 125,000 appointments and operations were cancelled and will need to be rearranged.

This figure is on top of almost 25,000 procedures cancelled during previous walkouts.

Junior doctors wear scrubs and masks as they sit down in a silent protest outside Bristol Royal Infirmary

The BMA has already urged Hunt to halt the imposition of the contract and reopen negotiations.

The union has not made any decisions about how to proceed.

A Department of Health spokesman said: "The BMA directly caused the introduction of new contracts after we agreed to suspend imposition last November, because they went back on their word to talk about Saturday pay.

"It is now too late to change the process of bringing in contracts which is well under way throughout the country.

"However, the door remains open to talk about implementation and many other non-contractual issues of concern to junior doctors - so if this intervention helps those talks to go ahead, we welcome that."