A planned junior doctors' strike will go ahead on 10 February after last-ditch talks between the government and the British Medical Association (BMA) concluded without resolution. The BMA, officials from NHS Employers and Sir David Dalton, chief executive of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust, were holed up in meetings trying to avert the strike.
The Department of Health (DoH) has confirmed that the informal talks concluded without a solution. As a result, junior doctors – which is an umbrella term for all doctors below consultant level – will provide emergency-only care from 8.00am (GMT) in a 24-hour walkout.
NHS England claims that 1,150 planned inpatient procedures and 1,734 day procedures were scrapped because of the planned strike before the talks had finished. During the first strike in January, some 4,000 operations had to be cancelled.
The government and those striking have failed to agree on weekend pay and whether Saturdays should be seen as normal time or warrant a premium. At the minute, 7.00pm to 7.00am Monday to Friday and the whole of Saturday and Sunday attract higher rates of pay.
In the Commons, Jeremy Hunt was forced to deny claims that he could have halted the industrial action. He said: "The only reason we do not have a solution on the junior doctors is because in December on the one outstanding issue, which is about pay on Saturdays, the BMA said they would negotiate but last month they said they refused to negotiate. That is the only outstanding issue. If they are prepared to negotiate and be flexible on that so are we."
Dr Anne Rainsberry, of NHS England told the BBC: "The NHS is doing everything possible to minimise the impact of this regrettable strike which will delay care for thousands of patients at a time of year when service pressures across the health service are already at their highest.
"We will monitor the situation across the country to ensure plans are in place, and people are ready to respond to any significant increases in pressure in any region over the period of this strike."