Talks have resumed to try and break the deadlock in the dispute over the new junior doctors’ contract.
Negotiators from the Department of Health and the British Medical Association (BMA) are back around the negotiating table for the first time since talks broke down in February.
The move follows last week’s call by the Academy of Medical Royal College for both sides to take a five days pause in their dispute to try and reach an agreement.
The talks are being staged by arbitration service ACAS.
Health secretary Jeremy Hunt (pictured) said he was happy to resume talks but said the BMA must agree to talk about weekend working.
He said there were a few outstanding issues to be resolved as part of the government’s plans for a seven day NHS.
Sir David Dalton, the chief executive of Salford Royal NHS Foundation Trust is leading the government’s negotiating team.
The Department of Health said: “We will be looking for resolution on the small number of outstanding issues that separated both parties in February, principally Saturday pay, but also other issues that affect the motivation, recruitment and retention of junior doctors.”
The BMA’s junior doctors committee met on Saturday to discuss its formal response to the Academy’s suggestion that talks resume.
Junior doctors’ leader Johann Malawana tweeted: “I welcome working with David to try & find a solution for junior doctors. Will be tough week but juniors want talks.”
The junior doctors withdrew emergency cover for two days last month for the first time in the NHS’s history as part of their dispute over the new contract.
Jeremy Hunt has said he would introduce the new contract in August after the previous talks broke down.
Malawana said there were a number of outstanding issues, including “protection against working excessive hours, the impact of shift patterns, and the ability of trusts to vary contract terms unilaterally.
‘These sit in the broader context of morale, quality of training and work-life balance, issues critical to the current and future generations of junior doctors,” he said.