Junior doctors should stop all strikes to allow the government to enter talks with Acas over the bitter pay row a Minister has said.
The British Medical Association (BMA) are urging the government to sit around the table to break the deadlock and Acas has said that they are “prepared and ready to help.”
Home Office minister Chris Philp said that the junior doctors striking is “extremely damaging” and they must stop industrial action to allow talks to take place.
Philp said that the Health Secretary Steve Barclay’s door is “open” and the BMA should contact him directly.
He was asked on BBC Radio 4’s Today programme, “Why not just say yes, in a strike where lives are at stake… yes to Acas? It’s not something that involves you having to agree to anything. It’s a process, it’s a discussion.”
Philp replied, “Well, that’s a very recent change in position. That wasn’t the junior doctors committee’s position until very, very recently.
“I think it would also be constructive if they would just suspend the strikes while talks take place.
“If they’re willing to do that, then I think the Secretary of State’s door is very much open.”
The Department of Health and Social Care are open to considering Acas to get involved, but reiterated talks cannot take place until junior doctors drop their demand for a 35% pay increase.
A spokesman said, “We’ve been engaging with Acas during this dispute and remain open to considering whether there is a role for them to help us reach the desired outcome – an end to strike action which is putting patient safety at risk.
“But our position remains that the junior doctors council needs to significantly reduce its demand for a 35% pay increase and pause action for formal talks to begin and that will not change.”
Chairman of the BMA council, Professor Philip Banfield, said: “In the face of a constant refusal from the Health Secretary to agree to further talks and put forward a credible offer which could bring an end to the dispute, we believe that working with Acas provides the most realistic chance of a successful outcome to the negotiations.
“The BMA has no preconditions to talks and has consistently sought to negotiate with the Government.
“It takes both sides of a dispute to want to find a solution, and we urge the Health Secretary to show the same willingness that we have and make himself available and open to talks facilitated by Acas.”