Junior doctor protest in October
The 24-hour junior doctors' strike has been called off Reuters

Tuesday's 24-hour strike has been cancelled although thousands of non-life threatening operations have been delayed. The British Medical Association has decided to suspend the mass walk-out after an eleventh hour breakthrough during the delicate negotiations.

The junior doctors agreed to hold further talks with Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, in an attempt to work out a deal and unravel the acrimonious dispute over their work contracts.

The decision to stop the strike was due to Hunt finally conceding to the British Medical Association's demand that he lift his threat to lay down a new contract on 45,000 trainee doctors.

However, it has still caused a great deal of disruption for hospitals in England, with over 4,000 patients having their treatment postponed. An outline agreement is thought to have been decided between the two sides. It was reached during talks at Acas, the conciliation service on Monday (30 November), aimed at avoiding strikes planned for Tuesday, and also 8 and 16 December.

An Acas spokesman said: "Acas is pleased that the talks have been held in a constructive manner and cooperative spirit between the parties, that will allow an improvement in industrial relations."

Hunt told the House of Commons on Monday afternoon: "I'm pleased to report to the house 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 can 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."

Under the agreement NHS employers agreed to extend the time frame for contract negotiations until January 13 next year.