THE director of the Welsh NHS Confederation has said that the suspension of the latest planned doctor strikes is a 'promising step in the right direction'.

It was confirmed earlier this week that striking junior doctors, consultants and specialists have suspended industrial action in Wales after agreeing to formal negotiations about pay with the Welsh Government.

That follows three rounds of industrial action by junior doctors in Wales over the 2023/2024 pay dispute.

Back in January, striking junior doctors at Wrexham Maelor Hospital said the initial pay offer was a "kick in the teeth". 

But now, with new negotiations ongoing, the planned 48-hour strike by consultants and specialist doctors due to take place from April 16 has been suspended.

Junior doctors have paused plans to announce more strike dates whilst they enter negotiations.

First Minister Vaughan Gething said further funding had been identified to support the negotiations.

He added: “This is a government that listens and engages to find solutions. We currently face the most severe financial situation in the devolution era which makes our task far harder.

“Despite this backdrop, we have worked to identify a way forward that I hope will lead to the successful resolution of this dispute and ensure that doctors can return to work in NHS Wales.”

Director of the Welsh NHS Confederation, Darren Hughes, says the suspension of the strikes is a 'promising step in the right direction'.

However, he also warned that the prospect of further industrial action has 'not disappeared'.

Mr Hughes said: "NHS leaders will be cautiously optimistic to hear of the suspension of next week’s industrial action by doctors as a result of progress in talks with the Welsh Government, as well as junior doctors pausing plans to announce further strike dates during negotiations.

“The health service relies heavily on its consultant workforce and these professionals have helped to keep the most life-critical services afloat including over the difficult winter period and the recent junior doctors' walkouts.

“Although this is a promising step in the right direction, this doesn’t mean the prospect of future strikes has disappeared. Even for the now-suspended walkout next week, NHS organisations will have worked tirelessly to fill rota gaps, rearrange appointments and procedures and do everything in their power to keep patients safe and provide timely care.

“This shows that progress is possible when working in social partnership and we urge those on all sides of the table to do all they can to reach common ground in this disruptive, long-standing dispute so the NHS can provide the best care and treatment for patients. NHS leaders will want to seek assurance from the Welsh Government that any funding promised is recurrent in nature.”