Second junior doctors strike called off after talks between the BMA and Government

The strike was planned for 48 hours next week

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A planned strike by junior doctors scheduled for next week has been suspended after talks between the British Medical Association and the Government.

The 48-hour strike had been due to take place from Tuesday to Thursday 26 to 28 January but will now not go ahead, the BMA said.

Dr Johann Malawana, the chair of the BMA's junior doctor committee, said differences still existed between negotiators but that there would now be more time for talks before the next wave of industrial action hit.

A third planned strike in February remains in place and will go ahead unless "concrete proposals" are put on the table, the BMA says.

"The BMA’s aim has always been to deliver a safe, fair junior doctor contract through negotiated agreement. Following junior doctors’ clear message to the government during last week’s action, our focus is now on building on early progress made in the current set of talks," Dr Malawana said.

"On this basis, the BMA has today taken the decision to suspend the industrial action planned for 26-28 January, thereby giving Trusts as much notice as possible so as to avoid disruption to patients.

"It is important to be clear, however, that differences still exist between the BMA and the Government on key areas, including the protection of patient safety and doctor’s working lives, and the recognition of unsocial hours. Significant, concrete progress will need to be made if future action, currently planned for 10 February, is to be averted."

A spokesperson for the Government said the strike's suspension was "extremely welcome news".

Doctors overwhelmingly voted to strike late last year by 98 per cent on a turnout of over 70 per cent.

They have warned that a new contract for junior doctors will put patient safety at risk by incentivising unsafe working patterns and could see pay cuts for doctors who work the longest hours.

The Government says the new contract is necessary to improve NHS services on weekends.

The British Medical Journal has however accused the Government of misuing academic studies it published.

One strike, excluding emergency care, went ahead last week after negotiators failed to reach an agreement. A previous strike scheduled for last year had been scheduled but called off amid negotiations.

The cancellation of the strikes comes a day after David Cameron warned in an interview that junior doctors could be unilaterally forced to accept a new contract if an agreement was not reached.