Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said there is a "possible agreement" in place between the British Medical Association and the government to avert a junior doctors' strike on 1 December. The eleventh-hour U-turn came following talks organised by conciliation service Acas.
In a statement to MPs, Hunt said: "After working through the weekend discussions led to a potential agreement early this afternoon between the BMA leadership and the government. This agreement would allow a time-limited period during which negotiations could take place and during which the BMA agrees to suspend strike action and the government agrees not to proceed unilaterally with implementing a new contract."
Junior doctors are due to go on strike at 8am on 1 December over plans being pushed through by the Department of Health that they say will force them to work longer hours with no extra pay. The imposition is part of the Conservative's election manifesto to create a seven-day NHS.
Hunt had offered junior doctors an 11% pay hike, and added in the House of Commons that he could still impose the new rules, but 98% of the medics who voted earlier in November backed the industrial action. Full walkouts are also planned for 8 and 16 December.