By Joe Mellor, Deputy Editor
The junior doctors’ dispute seems to have finally reached a deal to end the months of industrial action in the medical profession.
A lot of the blame has been placed firmly at Jeremy Hunt’s door, and he has managed to admit there are “lessons to learn,” from his lengthy dispute with junior doctors over their contracts, and plans to offer a seven-day health service.
However, the health secretary, still takes no responsibility for the industrial action that could have brought the NHS to a complete halt.
Hunt’s comments come after talks with the BMA (British Medical Association) looks to have agreed on a deal, which would bring the stand-off to an end. In total eight days of strike action occurred by doctors, which is totally unprecedented.
Speaking on Radio 4, Hunt insisted the government had secured its “red lines” for delivering its commitment to a seven-day health service by driving down the cost of employing doctors over the weekend.
But he added: “I don’t think you can go through what we have been through for the last 10 months and say that everyone hasn’t got lessons to learn, including the health secretary.
“I don’t say I was responsible for the industrial action because I think that was a decision taken by the BMA and initially caused by the fact that at the time there was not willingness to engage with the big issues that we needed to resolve to deliver a seven-day NHS.
“What I do say is we have come to appreciate that there was a lot of anger, a lot of frustration felt by junior doctors about things that extended well beyond their contract.”
Whatever his argument, Hunt was roundly criticised for his hardline tactics, even from his own party, and being economical with the truth with his use of statistics.
Sarah Wollaston, the Conservative head of the Commons health committee, wrote in the Guardian last month: “Ministers are undermining their case and inflaming tensions by misquoting the evidence, which points more to the need to improve senior decision making, nursing cover and rapid access to investigations at the weekends than to increase junior doctor cover.”
Even though a deal looks like it has been agreed there has already ben a backlash. Some junior doctors are furious at the BMA deal which some have called “a sellout” and “a joke”.