A deal has been reached between the government and junior doctors over the long-running contract dispute. Following 10 days of negotiations, the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (Acas) announced that new terms have been agreed by both the British Medical Association (BMA) and the government.
The BMA said the new offer will now be put before members of the union in a referendum and, if agreed upon, will be implemented in August this year. All junior doctors will then move on to the agreed new terms between October 2016 and August 2017.
Junior doctors have staged several walk outs as part of the dispute over the new contracts, which they argue would have put people's lives at risk because of the working hours as well as a dispute over weekend pay. On 26 April, junior doctors staged the first ever all-out strike since the NHS began in 1948, as they walked out on both emergency and routine care for 18 hours.
Acas has confirmed that there will be no further junior doctor strikes while the BMA referendum is under way. The new conditions for the contract will include a number of previously agreed upon terms from negotiations in February along with other requirements including:
Doctors will also receive a percentage of their annual salary for working more than six weekends in a year, ranging from a rise of 3% for working one weekend in seven to up to 10% for working one weekend in two.
Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair, said: "Following intense but constructive talks, we are pleased to have reached agreement. Junior doctors have always wanted to agree a safe and fair contract, one that recognises and values the contribution junior doctors make to the NHS, addresses the recruitment and retention crisis in parts of the NHS and provides the basis for delivering a world-class health service.
"I believe that what has been agreed today delivers on these principles, is a good deal for junior doctors and will ensure that they can continue to deliver high-quality care for patients. This represents the best and final way of resolving the dispute and this is what I will be saying to junior doctors in the weeks leading up to the referendum on the new contract."
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: "We welcome this significant agreement which delivers important changes to the junior doctors' contract necessary to deliver a safer seven day NHS.
"The talks have been constructive and positive and highlighted many areas outside the contract where further work is necessary to value the vital role of junior doctors and improve the training and support they are given. This deal represents a definitive step forward for patients, for doctors, and for the NHS as a whole."