Health Secretary invites junior doctors for pay talks ahead of 72-hour strike
he Health Secretary has invited junior doctors for pay talks in an attempt to avert next week’s three-day strike amid a bitter dispute over pay.
Steve Barclay said he had proposed negotiations “on the same basis other health unions accepted”, after planned industrial action by tens of thousands of key workers was suspended when the Government agreed to discuss pay for this year.
Unions representing ambulance workers, physiotherapists, nurses and midwives have been in talks with the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) since Tuesday.
But the discussions have not involved junior doctors in the British Medical Association (BMA), who are still due to walk out for 72 hours on Monday.
Mr Barclay tweeted on Friday night: “I’ve written to @BMA_JuniorDocs inviting them for formal pay talks on the same basis other health unions accepted, including calling off next week’s strike.
“Let’s have a constructive dialogue to make the NHS a better place to work and ensure we deliver the care patients need.”
However, the BMA junior doctors faction noted the Health Secretary did not attend talks on Friday.
Without any credible negotiations we have no choice but to strike on Monday
Responding to Mr Barclay’s tweet, the @BMA_JuniorDocs Twitter account posted: “Just a reminder that we had a meeting today which @SteveBarclay failed to attend…
“Without any credible negotiations we have no choice but to strike on Monday and continue our fight for #PayRestoration.”
Nearly 40,000 junior doctors voted to take industrial action in the BMA ballot.
NHS England has expressed concern about the impact of the strikes on emergency care and efforts to tackle waiting lists.
Chief strategy officer Chris Hopson told a summit last week that he expected the strikes to have a “bigger and wider spread” than any walkouts so far.
On Thursday, the Government said negotiations with other health unions had been constructive and will carry on into next week.
Four of the unions involved, GMB, Unison, Unite, and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, called off strike action in order to facilitate the ongoing talks.
The Royal College of Nursing also averted strikes at the beginning of March when they entered into pay negotiation with the Government.