Junior Doctors’ Strike called off…
At the eleventh hour, the Junior doctors’ in England have suspended strike action and the strike called off.
The Junior doctors’ proposed strike action has arisen because an 11% pay rise offered to Junior doctors by ministers was offset by other elements of the pay package, including unsociable hours payments. The BMA warned that doctors could end up overworked and that safeguards to prevent excessive working hours would be weakened.
The doctors union, the BMA, and the government have had 4 days of talks and the Health Secretary says that a possible deal may be reached.This is after a last-minute breakthrough in talks, but it came too late for many hospitals, already having planned to delay treatment for around 4000 patients, including cancellation of around 10-15% of planned operations. For some patients, it will not be the first time they have had their operation cancelled.
The decision came on Monday night, which was only hours before the first walkout was due to begin at 8 AM Tuesday morning.
There will now be a few weeks suspension for strike action to allow further discussions about the detail of an agreement. However, this is just a temporary move and the BMA has until 13 January to start industrial action if talks do not lead to a final deal.
At Medical Solicitors we feel that it was sensible for hospitals to start planning for strike action when the BMA announced the dates in early November. Although delays in care are clearly a blow for patients, the planning is essential to ensure that when patients receive their care, they are going to receive reasonable care with a good outcome. Some care has been largely unaffected with cancer care being prioritised.
In general our impression is that the Junior doctors have the full backing of the general public.
It is clearly crucial to ensure future standards of care in the NHS that a final deal is reached that will enable junior doctors to attend to their duties without being overstretched, or underpaid.