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Claims Sunak blocked progress on doctors’ pay deals ‘untrue’, says No10

Downing Street has rejected claims that Rishi Sunak personally blocked progress to secure a deal to end doctors’ strikes.

It follows a report in The Guardian, which cited sources describing the Prime Minister as a “blocker” last year in progressing talks with consultants and junior doctors, amid fears improved offers could prompt calls for higher pay elsewhere.

A Government spokeswoman said: “These reports are untrue.

“Junior doctors have been given a fair pay increase averaging 8.8%. On top of that pay increase, we have also offered further investment for junior doctors during the latest negotiations.

“If they come back to the table with reasonable expectations then we remain hopeful of finding a way forward.

“We want everyone to focus on patients and cutting waiting times for them, and urge the BMA to work with us in the interests of patients.”

Junior doctors remain in dispute over pay and conditions, while senior hospital doctors last month narrowly rejected a deal that would have seen medics receive a pay rise of between 6% and 19.6%.

Mr Sunak this week admitted that he has failed on his pledge to cut NHS waiting lists after months of walkouts by NHS staff.

The Prime Minister last year made cutting the number of patients waiting for treatment one of the five key priorities of his leadership.

Labour’s shadow health secretary Wes Streeting accused Mr Sunak of “blocking a deal so he can blame NHS staff for the crisis in the NHS, instead of taking responsibility himself”.