LONDON (Reuters) — Britain's junior doctors said on Tuesday they would suspend a threatened 48-hour strike planned for next week after making progress in conciliation talks with the government over pay and conditions for working anti-social hours.
The junior doctors, or doctors in training who represent just over half of all doctors in the National Health Service (NHS), have already held a one-day strike this month.
Their union, the British Medical Association (BMA), said that action had already sent a clear message to the government.
"The BMA has today taken the decision to suspend the industrial action planned for 26-28 January," BMA junior doctor committee chairman, Dr Johann Malawana, said in a statement.
"Our focus is now on building on early progress made in the current set of talks," he added.
But he warned that a third strike in which even emergency care was to be withheld, planned to start on Feb. 10, would go ahead if "significant, concrete progress" was not made.
The government aims to deliver what it says will be a consistent service seven days a week citing studies which show mortality rates are higher at weekends when staffing is reduced.
A new deal it is proposing for the doctors would see them given a pay rise but some anti-social hours for which they are currently paid a premium would be considered to be standard.
The BMA says the contract does not provide proper safeguards against doctors working dangerously long hours.
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