Concerns over patient safety have led to the British Medical Association (BMA) calling off the planned second round of junior doctors strikes, originally slated for next week (12 -16 September).
Next week's strike, which has been called off, was due to take place between 08:00 and 17:00 BST from Monday to Friday (12 - 16 September) - was to be the first of four all-out five-day stoppages during the rest of the year.
Hospital managers and medical staff highlighted worries that the short notice given – the industrial action was announced only last week – could compromise patient care. The decision was made by the BMA after holding a meeting with NHS England officials on Monday (5 September).
"While the BMA provided more than the required notice, we have taken this decision to ensure the NHS has the necessary time to prepare and to put in place contingency plans to protect patient safety.
"Our hospitals are chronically understaffed, our NHS is desperately underfunded - we have to listen to our colleagues when they tell us that they need more time to keep patients safe.
"Future action is still avoidable. The BMA has repeatedly said it will call off further action if the government puts a halt to plans to force junior doctors to work under a contract they have rejected because they don't believe it is good for the future of patient care or the profession."
However, strikes in October, November and December (2016) are set to go ahead unless the government is prepared to negotiate a new contract. The new terms for junior doctors is due to start coming into effect from October.
A Department of Health (DoH) spokesperson said the BMA should be "putting patients first not playing politics in a way that will be immensely damaging for vulnerable patients".
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt may clarify his position later on Monday (5 September) when he makes a statement in the Commons on the bitterly contested dispute.