News

05.09.16

BMA suspends September strike action

Junior doctors have called off a planned five-day strike next week, citing concerns over the impact on NHS services.

The British Medical Association (BMA) announced its intention to strike from 12 to 17 September last week, prompting calls to reconsider from the Academy of Royal Medical Colleges, NHS Providers and NHS Confederation.

Dr Ellen McCourt, chair of the BMA junior doctors’ committee, said that junior doctors had taken the decision after NHS England said, for the first time in the ongoing dispute, that it could not cope with strikes in the given notice period.

“Over the past few days we have been described as radical, we have been described as militant, we have been described as prioritising ourselves over our patient’s safety,” Dr McCourt said.

“This is not true. Patient safety remains doctors’ primary concern. We have to listen to our colleagues when they tell us that they need more time to keep patients safe.”

Prior to the suspension of the industrial action, the General Medical Council reminded junior doctors of their responsibility to put patient safety first, saying it has the power to investigate doctors who it thinks are failing to do so.

Dr McCourt added that “working doctors, patient groups and the public” had also contacted the BMA with concerns about patient safety.

She said that the news does not “absolve” health secretary Jeremy Hunt of his decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors, which will require them to work longer hours, after they voted to withdraw it.

The BMA is still planning to hold strikes on 5,6,7,10 and 11 October, 14-18 November and 5-9 December unless Hunt revokes his decision to impose the contract.

(Image c. Ben Birchall from PA Wire and Press Association Images)

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