The BMA has agreed to meet with the health secretary to discuss a pay deal for junior doctors on the ‘same terms’ as nurses and ambulance workers, the Government has said.
Last week, nurses on Agenda for Change contracts were offered a one-off payment for the current financial year 2022/23 worth between £1,655 and £3,789 and a 5% consolidated pay increase for 2023/24 to end strikes that have been taking place for the past three months.
The deal is still subject to votes among union members but several unions have recommended its acceptance. The RCN has so far refrained from endorsing the deal or recommending its rejection.
Junior doctors walked out for 72 hours from Monday until Wednesday last week, after more than 36,000 BMA members voted in favour of strikes over the 26% real-terms cuts to their pay since 2008.
And it has emerged that 175,000 appointments and procedures were cancelled as a result.
The data also shows the number of appointments and procedures rescheduled each day as a result of the strikes, with 54,449 outpatients appointments cancelled on 14 March only.
NHS England data published on Friday (17 March) shows that at least 27,936 members of staff were absent from work on each day of the strikes as a result of industrial action.
The BMA’s junior doctor leaders will meet with health secretary Steve Barclay later this week.
Mr Barclay had previously failed to avert strike action telling the BMA he had ‘no authority’ or ‘green light’ to renegotiate junior doctors’ pay.
The Department of Health and Social Care said that Mr Barclay had written to the BMA on 10 March inviting the union to enter formal talks over the pay deal on the same terms as with Agenda for Change unions and he wrote to them again on 16 March to reiterate the offer.
Responding to the NHS England figures, the co-chairs of the BMA junior doctors committee Dr Vivek Trivedi and Dr Robert Laurenson said: ‘Every day junior doctors despair as they see operations cancelled and treatment postponed for the millions on the waiting lists because our health services are in crisis.
‘But rescheduling appointments as a result of the strike action could have been avoided if the Health Secretary had come to the table and negotiated an agreed settlement with us before any strike action was taken.
‘The NHS had more than two months’ notice that we would strike for 72 hours if the ballot was successful.
‘The Government has been in no doubt about our campaign for full pay restoration for over six months and this has been borne out by the number of junior doctors in England who have taken part in the industrial action.
‘Junior doctors are keen to see their pay restored and to avoid further disruption to patient care, so if the health secretary is as committed to finding a settlement as he claims to be, it is within his gift to offer a deal so junior doctors can earn what they are worth, avoid further strike action and give patients the care they deserve.’
A Department of Health and Social Care spokesperson said: ‘We deeply regret that over 175,000 appointments and procedures were cancelled this week, despite our offer to start formal talks on the condition strikes were paused.
‘However we are pleased the BMA has now accepted our offer to enter talks based on the same terms as with the Agenda for Change unions – which concluded positively this week.
‘We want to find a fair settlement which recognises the crucial role of junior doctors and the wider economic pressures facing the UK, as we have done with other unions.’