• NHS Employers confirms talks have taken place with the British Medical Association to try to avert strike
  • Junior doctors are due to walk out for 24 hours from 8am tomorrow but emergency care will be provided
  • NHS England estimates almost 3,000 inpatient and daycase procedures will be cancelled

Last ditch talks over plans to change junior doctor contracts are taking place today between the British Medical Association and the government in an effort to stave off tomorrow’s strike action by junior doctors.

HSJ understands today’s talks are directly between NHS Employers and the BMA and not through the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service.

Doctors meeting

Doctors meeting

The BMA and NHS Employers are in talks today

Thousands of junior doctors are expected to walk out from 8am tomorrow for 24 hours but the BMA has backed down on its threat to withdraw trainees from emergency care, which will remain in place during the strike.

NHS England has said 154 acute and specialist trusts plan to cancel 1,150 inpatient elective procedures, with 1,036 cancelled on the day of the strike. It also said trusts planned to cancel 1,734 day case procedures, with 1,634 cancelled tomorrow.

Sir David Dalton is leading negotiations with the BMA but talks broke down last month as the union held firm against plans to make Saturday hours plain time instead of unsocial.

An NHS Employers spokesman said: “We can confirm that talks are taking place today in an attempt to avert tomorrow’s action and part of our willingness to talk even at this late stage.”

The BMA was asked for comment but had not responded before publication.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt was due to answer MPs questions in the House of Commons today.

Dr Anne Rainsberry, national incident director for NHS England, said: “The NHS is doing everything possible to minimise the impact of this regrettable strike which will delay care for thousands of patients at a time of year when service pressures across the health service are already at their highest.”

She added: “We will monitor the situation across the country to ensure plans are in place, and people are ready to respond to any significant increases in pressure in any region over the period of this strike.”

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