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Exclusive: Govt restarts ‘informal’ talks with junior doctors

Published on: 10 Aug 2023

Informal negotiations have restarted between the government and the British Medical Association today, in a bid to avert continued strike action by junior doctors, HSJ understands.

It comes ahead of a four-day strike starting on Friday and is thought to be the first time in several weeks the two sides have been in talks. 

It is thought the Department of Health and Social Care reached out to the British Medical Association to restart informal discussions.

The full significance of the discussions is unclear, particularly the extent to which pay is being discussed.

Last month, prime minister Rishi Sunak said an average 8.8 per cent uplift to junior doctors for 2023-24 was the “final offer” and there would be “no more talks on this year’s pay”.

However, that left room for potential negotiations about back-dated pay rises for last year, or forward-dated uplifts for next year.

As well as this weekend’s coming action, there is a crucial reballoting process currently happening, in which the BMA is seeking to renew its mandate for strike action, which ends this month, for a further six months. The ballot closes on 31 August.

The BMA declined to comment.

The DHSC told HSJ in a statement: “There are no formal negotiations or talks on pay taking place with the BMA. As the prime minister has said, the recent pay offer was final.

“It will see doctors in training given an average 8.8 per cent rise this year, worth up to 10.3 per cent for the lowest paid, which will increase average pay by £3,800 to around £47,600. We continue to engage with the BMA at official level about a range of issues, as we always have done.”