Patients and the government can breathe a sigh of relief after the British Medical Association (BMA) today (5 September 2016) suspended its planned all-out strike of junior doctors across NHS England in September. The medics were going to walk out between 12 and 16 September, but the union called off the industrial action after criticism from other medical bodies.
"Over the past few days we have been described as radical, we have been described as militant, we have been described as prioritising ourselves over our patient's safety," said Ellen McCourt, the junior doctors chair of the BMA.
"This is not true. Patient safety remains doctors' primary concern."
The union, which represents around 34,000 junior doctors, is in dispute with the Department of Health and Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt over new contracts for the medics.
"He continues to ignore our request to stop the imposition," McCourt added.
"He continues to force upon junior doctors a contract that discriminates against carers, parents, doctors with disabilities and women, a contract that devalues our time and a contract that disincentives careers in our most struggling specialties. He continues to strive towards an uncosted, unfunded, unstaffed extended seven day service. He continues to disregard the concerns junior doctors have about staffing shortages and patient safety."
The decision to suspend the strike comes after the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges expressed it disappointment at the walkout.
"Five days of strike action, particularly at such short notice, will cause real problems for patients, the service and the profession," the group warned in a statement.
However, the BMA still has all-out strikes planned for October, November and December. These walkouts are planned to take place between 8am and 5pm BST.