Concession follows first ever NHS all-out strike by junior doctors over working hours
THE UK GOVERNMENT has offered to halt the implementation of a controversial new contract for junior doctors following an historic first all-out strike by the NHS workers.
The announcement comes just hours (5 May) after the department for health announced that its plans for implementation could not be halted. The sharp u-turn follows pressure by hospital authorities fearing further industrial action.
The freeze on implementation is being offered to the doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) on the condition that further planned strike action also be halted.
The change in approach comes a week after junior doctors staged an historic two day walk out, which saw strike action take place without the provision of emergency cover.
Quoted on the BBC before the announced u-turn, BMA junior doctor Committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana said: “The BMA would be prepared to agree to this proposal and temporarily suspend industrial action so that talks can resume with a mutually agreed facilitator, if the government is also prepared to suspend the threat of imposition.”
The change in approach comes a week after junior doctors staged an historic two day walk-out, which saw strike action take place without the provision of emergency cover.
Conservative ministers called the strike a “bleak day” for the NHS.
Polling data showed that the public supported the aggressive form of strike action by a factor of more than two to one .
Junior doctors have been locked in a stand-off with health secretary Jeremy Hunt since January when talks collapsed over attempts to impose the new contract which doctors claim would degrade their working conditions and put patients at risk.
The changes to junior doctors’ working conditions were due to be imposed in August unilaterally by the government, without the agreement of the BMA.
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Picture courtesy of Roger Blackwell