• BMA announces collapse of negotiations on junior doctor contract changes
  • A first 24-hour strike across England will take place next week, on 12 January
  • BMA chair Mark Porter says government refused to take doctors concerns seriously

Junior doctors across England are to take strike action next week after talks between the government and the British Medical Association failed to reach an agreement.

For 24 hours on 12-13 January junior doctors will provide emeregency care only. This will be followed by a 48-hour strike starting on 26 January before a third day of action on 10 February. On this day junior doctors will withdraw all labour, including emergency cover, from 8am-5pm.

The breakdown in talks follows months of bitter dispute betwen health secretary Jeremy Hunt and the BMA over plans to impose a new contract on juniors which would make changes to their pay progression and levels of unsocial hours pay. The government wants to reform the existing contract to end the system of banded pay and shift trainees to a higher basic salary to include weekend working.

The BMA announced this afternoon that talks had failed adding that the government had failed to address concerns over safeguards against long hours and recognition for unsocial working.

In November a ballot of junior doctors resulted in 98 per cent voting in favour of industrial action after Mr Hunt threatened to impose a contract by August next year. The BMA walked out of earlier talks on a new junior doctors contract in October 2014.

In a statement, BMA council chair Mark Porter said: “Throughout this process the BMA has been clear that it wants to reach agreement on a contract that is good for patients, junior doctors and the NHS. This is why, despite overwhelming support for industrial action, the BMA instead sought conciliation talks with the government, talks which were initially rejected and delayed by Jeremy Hunt.

“After weeks of further negotiations, it is clear that the government is still not taking junior doctors’ concerns seriously. Furthermore, the government has repeatedly dragged its feet throughout this process, initially rejecting our offer of talks and failing to make significant movement during negotiations.

“We sincerely regret the disruption that industrial action will cause, but junior doctors have been left with no option. It is because the government’s proposals would be bad for patient care as well as junior doctors in the long-term that we are taking this stand.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: ”Our absolute priority is patient safety and making sure that the NHS delivers high-quality care 7 days a week – and we know that’s what doctors want too, so it is extremely disappointing that the BMA have chosen to take industrial action which helps no-one.

“We had made good progress in talks, resolving 15 of the 16 issues put forward by the union – everything apart from weekend pay. We have now asked ACAS to reconvene talks in the hope the BMA will return to sensible negotiations.”

Strike dates

  • Providing emergency care only – 8am Tuesday, 12 January to 8am Wednesday, 13 January
  • Providing emergency care only – 8am Tuesday, 26 January to 8am Thursday, 28 January
  • Full withdrawal of labour – 8am to 5pm on Wednesday, 10 February

Dalton to lead Acas talks with junior doctors as strike looms