The BMA has suspended its planned junior doctor industrial action in England.
This follows feedback from doctors, patients and the public, and discussions with NHS England about the ability of the NHS to maintain a safe service if industrial action planned for October, November and December were to go ahead.
BMA junior doctor committee chair Dr Ellen McCourt said: “In light of feedback from doctors, patients and the public, and following a passionate, thoughtful and wide-ranging debate amongst junior doctors, the BMA has taken the decision to suspend planned industrial action.
“We still oppose the imposition of the contract and are now planning a range of other actions in order to resist it, but patient safety is doctors’ primary concern and so it is right that we listen and respond to concerns about the ability of the NHS to maintain a safe service.
“We hope the government will seize this opportunity to engage with junior doctors and listen to the range of voices from across the NHS raising concerns about doctors’ working lives and the impact of the contract on patient care. If the NHS cannot attract and keep those doctors on whose dedication and professional skills it relies, there will be no recognisable health service in England.”
Junior doctors in England were due to stage a full withdrawal of labour for five days, between the hours of 8am and 5pm on 5, 6 and 7 October and then 10 – 11 October; 14 – 18 November; and, 5 – 9 December.
The new contract is due to be implemented – against junior doctor wishes – in October.
Dr McCourt: “Our fight does not end here. For many people this whole dispute has turned on how the NHS will assure quality care over seven days. It has highlighted the need for an open and honest debate led by the BMA on how this will be achieved. We call on our colleagues across the medical profession, other healthcare professionals, and the government and patient groups to engage with junior doctors on this.”
Junior doctors have been in dispute with the government over a proposed new contract since the beginning of the year. They rejected a renegotiated version in July, despite it being backed by the BMA.
Dr Ellen McCourt has been formally elected to the post of Chair of the BMA junior doctor committee. She has been interim chair of the committee since July.