Politics

Junior doctors and government to enter talks after 72-hour strike

Junior doctors and the government are set to enter talks following a 72-hour-strike which saw more than 175,000 appointments reorganised.

The British Medical Association (BMA), which represents the clinicians, has pledged they will announce new strike dates if the government makes a “substandard” offer.

On Friday evening, the Department for Health and Social Care (DHSC) released a statement which said: “We deeply regret that over 175,000 appointments and procedures were cancelled this week, despite our offer to start formal talks on the condition strikes were paused.

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Junior doctors start 3-day walkout

“However, we are pleased the BMA has now accepted our offer to enter talks based on the same terms as with the agenda for change unions – which concluded positively this week.

“We want to find a fair settlement which recognises the crucial role of junior doctors and the wider economic pressures facing the UK, as we have done with other unions.”

The government earlier this week announced they had made a pay offer of 5% plus a one-off payment to the rest of the NHS on the agenda for change pay scale.

This dictates pay for most NHS workers aside from doctors, dentists and senior managers.

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But questions remain over where the extra £4bn for this offer will come from.

Junior doctors are calling for complete “pay restoration” to bring them back in line with the equivalent of what they earned in 2008.

Analysis: Where will the money for a 5% pay deal come from in an underfunded NHS?

This is equivalent to a 35% pay rise, and would cost the government another £1bn according to the BMA.

It is not clear when talks between the government and junior doctors will take place, although in an open letter to Health Secretary Steve Barclay, the BMA said it was available on Monday and Tuesday next week, and again on the same days the week after.

The letter added: “As it stands there is no further strike action announced.

“We are willing to enter talks based on a pause in announcing further strike action and first-year non-consolidated payment with a second-year consolidated pay award.

“However, we expect you to come to the table in good faith and with a credible offer towards achieving full pay restoration that we can recommend to our members.”

A tweet from the BMA explained to its members that “in the event that any offer is substandard, or where the talks lack sincerity or progress, we are fully prepared to call for strike action to focus the minds of the government”.

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