A five-day strike by junior doctors which was set to cause havoc at NHS hospitals next week has been called off.
The British Medical Association (BMA) cancelled the strike after NHS bosses said they needed more time to draw up contingency plans to protect patient safety.
Junior doctors had voted to strike between 8am-5pm each day from Monday in a long-running dispute over controversial changes to their contracts.
The BMA raised fears that new working conditions would lead to unsafe shift patterns and pay cuts for junior doctors.
But health secretary Jeremy Hunt decided to impose the new contract without agreement from the BMA.
The BMA called off next week’s action after talks with NHS England, but still plans to hold strikes in October, November and December unless the government backs down.
Dr Ellen McCourt, who chairs the BMA’s junior doctor committee, said: “Patient safety remains doctors’ primary concern which is why, following discussions with NHS England, the BMA has taken the decision to suspend next week’s industrial action.
“Our hospitals are chronically understaffed, our NHS is desperately underfunded. We have to listen to our colleagues when they tell us that they need more time to keep patients safe.”
Dr McCourt said future strike action was avoidable the government halts plans to impose the new contract.
She added: “I urge Jeremy Hunt to put patients first, listen to our concerns and end this dispute through talks.”