Strike called off over fears of patient safety

Action would have hit Pinderfields Hospital.
Action would have hit Pinderfields Hospital.
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A five-day strike by junior doctors which was set to cause havoc at NHS hospitals next week has been called off.

The British Medical Association (BMA) cancelled the strike after NHS bosses said they needed more time to draw up contingency plans to protect patient safety.

Junior doctors had voted to strike between 8am-5pm each day from Monday in a long-running dispute over controversial changes to their contracts.

The strike would have led to operations being cancelled at Mid Yorkshire Hospitals Trust, which runs Pontefract, Pinderfields and Dewsbury Hospitals.

Trust chief executive Martin Barkley said: “It’s a huge relief that the scheduled strike for September has been cancelled.

“Action over five days would clearly have been extremely disruptive and led to the cancellation of outpatient clinics.

“It would also have had some impact on elective surgery.”

The BMA has raised fears that the new junior doctors’ contract would lead to unsafe shift patterns and pay cuts for junior doctors.

But health secretary Jeremy Hunt decided to impose the new contract without agreement from the BMA.

The BMA called off next week’s action after talks with NHS England, but still plans to hold strikes in October, November and December unless the government backs down.

Dr Ellen McCourt, who chairs the BMA’s junior doctor committee, said: “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.”