Following junior doctors rejecting the new contract in a recent ballot, Jeremy Hunt has said he will move forward with the new contract.

A deal agreed with the British Medical Association (BMA) was rejected by 58% in a referendum of junior doctor and medical student members, even though the BMA had urged them to accept it. Only 68% of those eligible to vote took part in the ballot.

Junior doctors leader Dr Johann Malawana resigned when the result of the vote was announced and The BMA has yet to respond to the announcement.

Mr Hunt said it had been a “difficult decision” but he had been left with no choice, especially given the uncertainty facing the country.

“We’ve been left in no man’s land that if it continues can only damage the NHS,” he said.

He has rejected holding any further talks with the BMA, stating that after three years of talks on new terms and conditions for junior doctors they had failed to produce a final agreement.

Junior doctors have taken part in six strikes this year and have stated they would be prepared to take further strike action.

Senior doctors have warned that imposing the contract will reduce rather than increase the number of recent medical graduates who choose to work for the NHS in England.

Hunt pointed out that “The BMA’s figures show that only 40 per cent of those eligible actually voted against this contract, and a third of BMA members didn’t vote at all.”

Diane Abbott, the new shadow health secretary, replied: “There should be no suggestion that the junior doctors’ decision was illegitimate. The turnout was 68%, higher than the 2015 general election.”

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