Junior doctors in England had planned to strike last week over disputes about pay and working hours. The strike was cancelled as the Department of Health and NHS Employers agreed to re-enter negotiations.
But are the junior doctors happy with the new arrangements, and is further strike action on the cards?
Why were the doctors planning a strike in the first place?
Ministers have described the current contract between NHS Employers and junior doctors as being “out-dated” and “unfair.”
The government drew up new contracts in 2012 detailing a new pay scale and a redefined working week.
This contract was not well received by the British Medical Association (BMA) who represent junior doctors and talks subsequently broke down last year.
With the breakdown in communication between the BMA and the Department of Health, the government indicated that the new contract would be imposed in the New Year, with or without the support of the BMA.
The BMA responded by issuing a vote to all junior doctors in England asking whether or not they would support industrial action.
The ballot was almost unanimous as 98% of those who voted called for “full strike action.”
Why was this strike called off?
On the 30th November, the day before the first strike was due to take place, the BMA, the Department of Health and NHS Employers all agreed to return to negations. This means that the government agreed not to implement the contract without input from the BMA.
— The BMA (@TheBMA) November 30, 2015
These discussions are being held under the auspices of ACAS (Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service) an organisation devoted to preventing and resolving employment disputes.
Does this mean that both sides are satisfied?
Both sides are yet to formally agreed on what the new contracts will entail.
Although the Department of Health, NHS Employers and the BMA have all agreed to take part in negotiations, until all parties sign a new contract the issue remains on going.