Hospital Dr News

Junior contract dispute: talks between BMA and government extended into next week

The eleventh hour talks to reach a deal on the junior doctors contract in England are being extended into next week.

The government and the BMA have agreed to continue negotiating until Wednesday.

The talks, hosted by conciliation service Acas, which started on Monday, are seen as the last chance for the two sides to agree a deal ahead of the contract’s imposition in August.

They were set up following five strikes by juniors which included the first-ever full walk-out by doctors with the removal of emergency cover.

It comes after the government announced in February it would be imposing the contract after previous talks failed.

Discussions first started in 2012, but broke down in 2014, before Acas hosted talks at the turn of this year.

The main focus of this week’s talks have been on Saturday pay, although the BMA has also been raising other issues, including its inequality for female doctors and how the government is intending to fund its seven-day NHS policy.

RCP president Professor Jane Dacre said: “As we have said many times before, we believe that negotiations are the best way to see this dispute resolved, therefore it is welcome that talks are continuing. A solution is needed, both for the wider NHS and the patients we care for every day.”

Two separate legal cases are currently challenging the equality of the contract.

Stephen Dalton, acting Chief Executive of NHS Confederation said: “We welcome the decision by the government and the BMA to continue talking in a ‘safe space’. Our members are supportive of this additional time and the efforts being made with ACAS to try and find a swift resolution to this dispute for the benefit of patients and staff.”

Two high profile studies were released this week questioning whether increasing the number of doctors present in hospital at the weekend will lower the ‘weekend effect’ i.e. that death rates are higher among those admitted on a Saturday or Sunday.

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