NHS strikes: Talks to take place between Government and junior doctors in bid to end pay dispute
Talks are to take place between the Government and the union representing junior doctors in a bid to end their pay dispute.
The Department of Health and Social Care has said the British Medical Association representing junior doctors has accepted an offer of pay talks.
The union is demanding “pay restoration” for junior doctors, who can have many years’ experience and make up about 45 per cent of the medical workforce.
It says their pay has fallen in real terms by 26 per cent since 2008/09 and reversing this would require a 35.3 per cent pay rise.
More than 175,000 patient appointments and procedures were cancelled across England as a result of the junior doctors’ strike this week.
The 72-hour walkout that began on Monday subsequently became the most disrupive NHS strike this year.
NHS England medical director Sir Stephen Powis said the strike was on an “unprecedented scale”.
He told the BBC it had “a greater impact than all the other industrial action we have seen so far this winter combined”.
In a statement announcing the Government and the BMA would enter talks, a Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson 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.
"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."
Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chairman of the BMA, said on Thursday: “We were ready to talk months ago. Our formal dispute started over 150 days ago and, again, that is just what I mean in that it is disappointing it has taken Steve Barclay so long to get to the negotiating table.
“I only hope that he does come with good faith and a mandate to negotiate.”
It comes after an offer on Thursday’s offer for other NHS staff was backed by the Royal College of Nursing, the GMB and Unison. It includes a one-off lump sum for 2022/23 which rises in value up the NHS pay bands as well as a permanent 5 per cent rise on all pay points for 2023/24.
It followed days of talks between health unions and the Government, raising hopes the long-running dispute could be brought to an end.
Deputy Prime Minister Dominic Raab said on Thursday the Government hoped to strike a similar pay deal with junior doctors.