A PLANNED five day strike, which would have seen junior doctors walk out of Worcestershire hospitals next week, has been called off.

Industrial action had been scheduled to take place between the hours of 8am and 5pm, from next Monday, September 12, to Friday, September 16.

Junior doctors at Worcestershire Royal, Kidderminster Hospital and Redditch's Alexander Hospital were set to take part, having previously been involved in five separate strikes called during the long running dispute over the Government's controversial new contract.

September's strike was only announced last week and the Worcester News spoke to Peter Pinfield, the chairman of patient watchdog Healthwatch, who echoed concerns from medical leaders about patient safety.

Mr Pinfield also said he felt there was "no way" the NHS in Worcestershire would be able to cover five days, as they had done with senior doctors in previous 24 and 48-hour walk outs.

Yesterday, (September 5), the British Medical Association (BMA) announced it had suspended the strike action following talks with NHS England.

In a statement Dr Ellen McCourt, chairman of the BMA's junior doctors' committee, said: "While the BMA provided more than the required notice, we have taken this decision to ensure the NHS has the necessary time to prepare and to put in place contingency plans to protect patient safety."

The BMA says the rest of the industrial action, scheduled for October 7 to 11, November 14 to 18, and December 5 to 9, will still go ahead - but would be called off if the government agreed to stop the imposition of the new contract.

A Number 10 spokesman said: "The government's position has been that we didn't want the strike to take place.

"The BMA, as we have repeatedly said, should be putting patients first and not playing politics.

"We would urge junior doctors to suspend all other planned strikes."