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Throughout the bitter row between the British Medical Association and the government over junior doctors’ pay, NHS trusts have largely positioned themselves as neutral – supporting the right to strike while recognising the challenges it poses.

But one trust has this week drawn the ire of junior doctors affiliated to the BMA after informing them that they would have eight days’ wages deducted this month despite there being just five days of strike action scheduled.

In a letter sent to junior doctors and later shared on Twitter, North Bristol Trust chief medical officer Tom Whittlestone informed staff that due to the trust’s payroll close date falling on 5 July, and with “the majority of” junior doctors set to rotate out of the trust on 1 August, deductions from both June and July’s strike dates would be taken from July’s pay.

The BMA called this a “transparent and aggressive tactic” to try to “break willingness to strike”, though the trust has insisted it was a “proactive” measure to ensure that junior doctors could “make any necessary financial arrangements”.

July’s strike action by junior doctors will last for five consecutive days from 13 July to 18 July, making it the longest walkout in NHS history. It follows three days of strike action in June.

Abbott’s about-turn

Challenging a public procurement decision is a question of balance. Does the potential benefit of having a decision overturned outweigh the potential costs?

We do not know why healthcare firm Abbott Laboratories decided to drop its efforts to have a London court overturn the decision of three acute trusts in the north of England to award a pathology managed services contract to a competitor.

Abbott had wanted the High Court to overturn the decision by the acute collaborative of Leeds Teaching Hospitals Trust, Calderdale and Huddersfield Foundation Trust and Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust to award the contract to Siemens. It wanted the process run again.

Clearly, by the fact the firm brought the challenge in the first place, it felt the prospect of having another chance to win the 14-year, £450m contract was worth running the risk of losing the challenge and having to pay its own costs and the trusts’ costs, on top of missing out on the deal.

And we can infer from the fact that late last month, it decided to drop the challenge, freeing up the trusts to continue with awarding the contract to Siemens, that the original calculations had changed.

Also on today

In London Eye, Ben Clover looks ahead to the fourth bout of industrial action by junior doctors this year and the first by consultants.  And in Comment, Juliet Bouverie says thrombectomy stroke treatment is a life-saving procedure, but England’s low treatment rates are causing patients to miss out.