The Academy of Medical Royal Colleges is asking junior doctors to end strike action and the government to suspend its imposition of the new working contract to protect patient welfare.

In a statement, backed by all 22 member colleges and faculties, the Academy described “a time of unprecedented crisis for the NHS”, and called on both sides “to step back from the brink by suspending imposition of the contract and the all-out strike and urge a return to negotiations.”

“We believe that this is essential if the current impasse is to be broken and progress made in resolving this extremely damaging stand-off for the benefit of all NHS stakeholders, particularly our patients and trainees”.

The call comes after the British Medical Association announced last week that strike action was being stepped up to include a full walk-out by junior doctors, including those working in A&E, in April. 

The Union said further dates of industrial action are planned for April 6 - 8, during which time only emergency care will be provided, and April 26 and 27, when there will now be a full withdrawal of labour between the house of 8am and 5pm on both days.

“We deeply regret the disruption to patients and our message to patients is clear; this action is wholly avoidable but the government must choose talks over imposition,” said Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair.

Commenting on the situation, Maureen Baker, Chair of the Royal College of General Practitioners, said: “We are shocked it has come to this”.

“We continue to support the vital role our junior doctors play and hope that both sides will get back round the table to find a resolution. The actions of the Government are crucial in achieving this.”