The must read stories and talking points from Monday

BMA’s change of plan

After announcing two phases of industrial action last week, the British Medical Association started this week by calling off September’s five-day strike.

The BMA was told by NHS England that services “cannot cope with the notice period” that was given. Junior doctors had planned to walk out from 12 September as part of their ongoing contract dispute with the government.

But five days of strike action are still scheduled next month and in November and December.

The BMA said: “For the first time in this dispute NHS England have told us that a service under such pressure cannot cope with the notice period for industrial action given.

“Our hospitals are chronically under-staffed. Our NHS is desperately underfunded. We have to listen to our colleagues when they tell us that they need more time to keep patients safe.”

As Daily Insight was being finalised on Monday evening, health secretary Jeremy Hunt was due to speak in the House of Commons for the first time since strike action was announced and repealed.

Over the weekend, the Department of Health and its former chief negotiator Sir David Dalton challenged the BMA’s claim that the government had refused to answer questions about its seven day services policy (one of the crucial points of contention in the contract row).

Meanwhile, Health Education England has unveiled a series of measures to improve junior doctors’ quality of life and deal with “non-contractual issues” raised by the dispute.

The future for HSJ

This month HSJ launches its latest digital service – HSJ Solutions is the largest validated repository of NHS best practice ever assembled.

In another notable development, the HSJ magazine will now be published fortnightly and will continue for the meantime to provide a limited digest of our digital coverage. Reflecting subscriber demand, in the future we intend to devote our efforts entirely to digital channels.

More M&A in Birmingham?

Two Birmingham trusts have decided to take a big step forward in their relationship.

University Hospitals Birmingham Foundation Trust has announced it would like either acquire or merge with Heart of England FT, after almost a year of operating under a single chief executive and chair.

Dame Julie Moore took over the role of interim chief at the troubled HEFT in October 2015. If approved, a union would put her at the helm of a trust offering £1.4bn of acute services across Birmingham

The trusts are currently consulting on whether an acquisition or a merger should take place. Regardless of which option is chosen, Dame Julie and her board has made clear that “current arrangements are not sustainable”.