Junior doctors strike is called off as contract talks continue

Doctors strike outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital
Doctors strike outside Blackpool Victoria Hospital
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The decision to suspend next week’s planned junior doctors strike has been welcomed.

The British Medical Association (BMA) said its members won’t walk out of Blackpool Victoria Hospital for 48 hours as talks with the government continue.

It said it wanted to give health bosses as much notice as possible to avoid disruption to patients.

A number of operations and procedures would have been affected by the strike on Tuesday, when doctors were due to provide emergency care only.

But the BMA said ‘significant progress’ is still needed to be made to avoid a strike planned for February 10, when full labour, including emergency care cover, is due to be withdrawn.

It said ‘differences still exist between the BMA and the Government on key areas, including the protection of patient safety and doctors’ working lives, and the recognition of unsocial hours’.

The BMA’s junior doctor committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana said the strike held on January 12 had sent a ‘clear message’ to the Government.

He said: “Following junior doctors’ clear message to the government during last week’s action, our focus is
now on building on early progress made in the current set of talks.

“It is important to be clear, however, that differences still exist between the BMA and the government on key areas, including the protection of patient safety and doctors’ working lives, and the recognition of unsocial hours.

“Significant, concrete progress will need to be made if future action, currently planned for February 10, is to be averted.”

Trainee surgeon at Blackpool Victoria Hospital, Katherine Conroy, said: “No doctor wants to strike so we welcome the cancellation of next week’s industrial action and hope talks will continue to progress.

“I want to reassure patients that weekend or weekday, strike or no strike, the NHS will provide emergency care.”

A spokeswoman for Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said: “Senior managers and clinicians at the trust have worked closely with trade union representatives to ensure the quality and safety of care we provide to patients is not compromised by proposed strike action.

“We had not put any postponement plans into effect, so the news that the BMA has called off proposed action for January 26 and 27 will not affect patients with planned procedures or appointments on those days.”