U.K. Junior Doctors to Hold Talks Thursday to Avert More Strikes

  • Medics stopped non-emergency work for 24 hours Tuesday
  • Doctors opposed to new contract cutting weekend compensation

A stethoscope hangs from a doctor's neck outside St Thomas' Hospital in London, U.K., on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2016.

Photographer: Chris Ratcliffe/Bloomberg

Junior doctors in state-run National Health Service hospitals in England will resume talks Thursday to avert further strikes over a new contract changing the way they’re paid and reducing compensation for evening and weekend work.

The talks involving the British Medical Association, the doctors’ union, as well as NHS managers and the government will reconvene at 10 a.m. under the auspices of the independent Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service, the Department of Health said on its website Wednesday. Further negotiations are scheduled for Friday. ACAS is called in as a final arbitrator in labor disputes; it was involved in previous talks that collapsed last week.

The doctors -- medical-school graduates who are training to be consultants or family practitioners -- staged a first strike Tuesday, providing emergency care only for 24 hours. They’re planning similar action for 38 hours starting at 8 a.m. London time on Jan. 26. NHS England said only 39 percent of a possible 26,000 junior doctors reported for work Tuesday, and that more than 3,400 procedures had to be postponed.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said the new working arrangements are needed if the NHS is to move to seven-day-a-week working, a priority he’s set for the health service. Speaking to the BBC Tuesday, he called the strike “completely unnecessary.”

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