Junior doctors strike at Northwick Park Hospital is off but operation cancellations remain in place

Junior doctors at a rally in central London last month

Junior doctors at a rally in central London last month - Credit: PA WIRE

A strike by junior doctors due to take place today at Northwick Park Hospital has been postponed but operation cancellations remain in place.

Elected surgeries were placed on ice as junior doctors at the Watford Road hospital planned the first of three strike actions over changes in their contracts.

Junior doctors are arguing that new contracts proposed by Minister for Health Jeremy Hunt towards a seven-day working week will force them to work longer hours with no extra pay putting patients’ lives at risk.

The strikes were called off last night as the Department of Health agreed to enter negotiation talks with Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service (ACAS)

Bakshi Bhavagaya, GP registrar at the hospital, said: “It’s unfortunate that a lot of elected cases and operations had already been cancelled by then so a lot of patients were disadvantaged by the proposed strike action which now hasn’t gone ahead.”

Negotiations started late last week between the Department of Health and the British Medical Association and will continue until January 13.

Dr Bhavagaya added: “The government agreed to negotiate with the third party mediator ACAS which they refused to do so until last week.

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“In doing so they met the terms the BMA had outlined for entering in to negotiations. Should talks break down junior doctors still have the opportunity to strike.”

She said junior doctors wished to see appropriate safeguards written into their contracts to prevent them working dangerously long hours, a ‘fair contract’ to negate a 40 per cent paycut under current plans.

Dr Bhavagaya said: “They should be paid for the work they do appropriately. The government reclassified anti social hours to include all day Saturday and up until 10pm on weekdays as social hours.

“Specialities which do a lot of out of hours, paediatrics, A&E, obstetrics and gynaecology, all those trainees will be disadvantaged.

“We are hoping a negotiation can be met and a contract can be finalised.”

Dr Barbara Hakin, national director of commissioning operations at NHS England, said: “We’re very pleased that the action has been suspended and negotiations are continuing.

“This is in the best interests of patients although we can only apologise for the disruption caused to anyone who has already had their operations cancelled.”