29 January 2024

Junior doctors set to meet minister to discuss pay row

29 January 2024

Junior doctors in England are to meet with the Government to “discuss next steps” in the bitter row over pay, the Health Secretary has announced.

The British Medical Association (BMA) and health minister Andrew Stephenson are meeting this week, Victoria Atkins said.

Meanwhile Ms Atkins said that she “genuinely” thinks that a deal can be reached with consultants in England.

I obviously want to get a deal done, I genuinely think we can, but we've all just got to have some reasonable expectations as we get around the table

It comes after senior hospital doctors narrowly rejected a deal that would have seen medics receive a pay rise of between 6% and 19.6%.

Ms Atkins told BBC Breakfast she had already spoken to the BMA adding: “Minister Stephenson is meeting the junior doctors committee this week to discuss next steps.”

Dr Robert Laurenson and Dr Vivek Trivedi, co-chairs of the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee, said: “After almost three weeks of silence from the Government we could have been using to find an end to this dispute, we can confirm that following our letter requesting talks we will be meeting with health minister Andrew Stephenson later this week.

“We hope he will come with a constructive attitude toward getting a credible offer we can put to our members, as a matter of urgency, that can end this dispute once and for all.”

Ms Atkins added: “And with the consultants you’ll know that next that last week sadly, the consultants voted by a very narrow margin against the fair and reasonable settlement that we put forward that we negotiated with the BMA itself.

“We think there are around 600 votes across both unions that stopped that from getting over the line, so we are within touching distance.”

“And I very much look forward to the BMA explaining to us how they can manage this big divide in opinion amongst their own membership and how we can deal with some of the technical aspects that were raised during the ballot period.

“I obviously want to get a deal done, I genuinely think we can, but we’ve all just got to have some reasonable expectations as we get around the table.”

Last week the consultant members of the BMA rejected the Government’s revised pay offer by 51.1%.

Consultants from the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association (HCSA) rejected the offer earlier this month.

Meanwhile, junior doctors in England are currently being balloted to see whether they want to continue strike action.

Talks between the Government and junior doctors broke down last year.

Medics on the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee said that ministers had failed to put forward a credible offer before a pre-set deadline.

As a result, junior doctors staged two strikes, one before Christmas and another, the longest strike in NHS history, at the start of the year.

The NHS in England has been beset by strike action for more than a year.

Walkouts by various staff groups including doctors, nurses, paramedics and physiotherapists have led to more than 1.3 million appointments, procedures and operations being rescheduled.

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