COUNTY NEWS: Junior doctors’ strike called off

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Junior doctors have suspended their plans for a five-day walkout next week in a dispute over contracts.

The announcement follows a warning by the General Medical Council that industrial action at such a scale was unjustified at such short notice.

In a statement, the British Medical Association (BMA) said the abandoned strike does not absolve Jeremy Hunt, and warned remaining walkouts later in the year will go ahead as planned.

Ellen McCourt, chairwoman of the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee, said: “Over the past few days we have been described as radical, we have been described as militant, we have been described as prioritising ourselves over our patient’s safety. This is not true.

“Patient safety remains doctors’ primary concern. For the first time in this dispute, NHS England have told us that a service under such pressure cannot cope with the notice period for industrial action given.

“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.”

A Number 10 spokesperson has welcomed the BMA’s decision to suspend the planned walkout from 12 to 16 September, adding: “We would urge that junior doctors suspend all other planned strikes.”

Further industrial action is planned on 5, 6, 7, 10 and 11 October, 14 to 18 November and 5 to 9 December between the hours of 8am and 5pm.

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