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Junior doctor strikes at Whittington and Royal Free hospitals called off

PUBLISHED: 13:05 19 January 2016 | UPDATED: 14:44 19 January 2016

Striking junior doctors outside the Whittington Hospital in Archway on 12.01.15.

Striking junior doctors outside the Whittington Hospital in Archway on 12.01.15.

Archant

Junior doctors’ strikes which would have affected the Whittington and Royal Free hospitals have been called off.

Striking junior doctors with signs outside the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead on 12.01.15. Pictured Dr Sangita ChatterjeeStriking junior doctors with signs outside the Royal Free Hospital in Hampstead on 12.01.15. Pictured Dr Sangita Chatterjee

The second set of strikes would have resulted in emergency care only at both hospitals for 48 hours from January 26.

It follows a strike last Tuesday, which saw the Whittington Hospital cancel 21 operations and ten clinics and the Royal Free Hospital announced a cancellation of 31 operations and 14 clinics.

Both hospitals have almost 250 junior doctors working in employment.

The British Medical Association released a statement saying industrial action has been suspended whilst talks between the union and the government over contract changes continue.

A spokeswoman for the Whittington said: “It is encouraging to see that the planned 48 hour industrial action due to being on 26 January has been called off. To help us prepare for the strike a number of clinics were cancelled to enable us to continue to provide urgent and emergency care.

“As a result of this latest announcement we will now begin contacting those patients who were affected to offer them the chance to rebook their appointments.”

BMA junior doctor committee chair, Dr Johann Malawana, said: “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.

“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.”

The dispute began after the government implied they would impose junior contract changes which would extend ‘basic’ working hours.

Following the strikes, Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt emphasised his desire to continue with negotiations.

He said: “The door is open. I think these are things we can sort out by talking and not by risking patient safety.”

But junior doctors working at the Whittington and Royal Free told the Ham&High they had felt cornered and vilified by government negotiations and had been left with no choice.

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