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Hunt announces “potential agreement” with BMA to stop junior doctors strike

The British Medical Association (BMA) and the government have agreed on a potential agreement that will suspend strike action, however the strikes are still planned to start at 8am tomorrow.

The government is currently waiting for the BMA junior doctors executive committee to decide whether they can support it.

Jeremy Hunt, secretary of state for health, said in a statement in the House of Commons this afternoon: “Our preference has always been for a negotiated solution, but the house knows the BMA has refused to enter negotiations since June, however last week I agreed for officials to meet them under the auspices of ACAS conciliation services.

“I'm pleased to report to the house that after working through the weekend discussions led to a potential agreement between 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.

"This agreement is now sitting with the BMA junior doctors executive committee who will decide later today if they are able to support it.

“However, it's important for the house to know that right now strikes are still planned to start at 8 o'clock tomorrow morning,” he added.

However, Heidi Alexander, the shadow secretary for health told Hunt that “his handling in these negotiations has been a lesson in precisely how not to do it, so I trust today's announcement will mark a change in tone and a change in approach from this government.

She added that the dispute would be “deeply damaging” for workforce morale, and “you cannot keep asking our NHS workforce to do more for less,” and that “nobody wants patients to suffer and I hope now we can start to put this whole sorry saga behind us”.