Junior doctors urged to start talks with Government after unions reach NHS pay deal
Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of the British Medical Association’s (BMA) junior doctors committee, indicated that talks could take place with ministers as soon as Friday afternoon and that the union was open to negotiating “in good faith”.
Separate strike action by nurses and paramedics has been paused after unions accepted a pay deal involving a one-off lump sum payment for this financial year and a 5 per cent pay rise. The deal will now be put to union members for a vote before being accepted.
But industrial action by junior doctors is ongoing following a 72-hour walkout from Monday that significantly impacted services across the NHS.
Asked whether the BMA would enter into negotiations to halt further strikes, Dr Trivedi said: “I hope so.
“Our position has been that we are open to talk in good faith, meaningfully, at any time.
“We were ready to talk months ago. Our formal dispute started over 150 days ago and again that is just what I mean in that it is disappointing it has taken Steve Barclay so long to get to the negotiating table.
“I only hope that he does come with good faith and a mandate to negotiate.”
Pressed on when talks could happen, he said: “So far we haven’t arranged a time for this afternoon but there has been some correspondence between our offices so it does look like we’ll be able to set something up in the near future.”
The BMA says junior doctors’ pay has fallen in real terms by 26 per cent since 2008/09 and reversing this would require a 35.3 per cent pay rise.
Justice Secretary Dominic Raab urged the BMA to meet with Mr Barclay for negotiations.
He told GB News: “The same offer is there. I think it would be the right thing to do for them to accept it, I hope they will.
“I think it is a good deal, which is fair, which recognises the situation they are in, recognises the need we all have got to tackle the backlog in the NHS.”
The offer tabled by the Government consists of a one-off payment for the current financial year 2022/23 worth between £1,655 and £3,789 for Agenda for Change staff in England and a 5 per cent consolidated pay increase for 2023/24. It covers all NHS staff except doctors, who are on a different contract.
Tens of thousands of junior doctors finished a 72-hour strike at 8am on Thursday as part of a bitter pay dispute with the Government.
Consultants stepped in to cover in emergency care, but health leaders have warned that thousands of appointments and procedures were cancelled.
St George’s, Epsom and St Helier’s hospitals in south west London saw more than 1,000 people attend their emergency departments over the course of Monday – despite pleas to only attend A&E in a medical emergency during the strike. It is the equivalent of one person every 90 seconds.