Striking junior doctors, consultants and specialists have suspended industrial action in Wales after agreeing to formal negotiations about pay with the Welsh Government.

The British Medical Association’s three branches of practice – junior doctors, consultants and specialist doctors – voted to suspend the strikes and begin talks with the Welsh Government.

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

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

“We recognise the strength of feeling among BMA members and that industrial action is never taken lightly,” he said.

“This is a government that listens and engages to find solutions.

“I prioritised a meeting with the BMA directly alongside the cabinet secretary for health to reinforce our commitment to that partnership approach.

“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.”

Eluned Morgan, cabinet secretary for health, said: “Even in these very challenging circumstances, we have worked in social partnership with the BMA and NHS to maintain patent safety during industrial action.

“But the strikes have been very disruptive to the delivery of NHS services – none of us want to see doctors on strike.

“I am pleased the three BMA committees have agreed to pause further industrial action and begin formal talks with Welsh Government and hope we can bring an end to this dispute.”

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.

The Welsh junior doctors committee, Welsh specialist doctors committee and Welsh consultants committee will now each engage in pay negotiations, with the aim of reaching deals which can be put to their members.

Dr Oba Babs Osibodu and Dr Peter Fahey, co-chairs of the BMA Cymru Wales’ junior doctors committee, said: “This is a significant step forward.

“It is sad that we had to take industrial action to get here, but we are proud of members for demonstrating their resolve in pursuit of a fair deal for the profession.

“Whilst we are optimistic and hope to quickly resolve our dispute, we remain steadfast in achieving pay restoration. Until we reach a deal, nothing is off the table.

“We will continue to work hard to reach an offer that is credible to put to members who will ultimately have the final say.”

Dr Stephen Kelly, chair of BMA Cymru Wales’ consultants committee, said: “The Welsh Government’s recent efforts to reach an end to the pay dispute are encouraging and so we have called off our planned strike for now whilst we allow time and space for negotiations to take place.

“We’re hopeful that we can reach a deal that sufficiently addresses years of erosion to our pay to help retain senior doctors in Wales but remain ready to strike if we’re not able to do so during negotiations.”

Dr Ali Nazir, chair of BMA Cymru Wales’ specialist doctor committee, added: “As a committee, we felt that this latest development goes someway to understanding the strength of feeling of our members.

“We will work hard to reach a settlement that sufficiently meets the expectation of our colleagues who have faced real terms pay cuts of up to a third since 2008/9.”