Tuesday’s strike by junior doctors in England has been called off, but major disruption has already been caused as thousands of operations have been cancelled.
The British Medical Association agreed to suspend Tuesday’s walk-out following a last-minute breakthrough at talks.
But it came too late for hospitals – more than 4,000 patients have already had their treatment delayed.
An outline agreement is thought to have been agreed between the two sides.
The deal, which will now be subject to more detailed negotiation in the coming weeks, was reached during talks at conciliation service Acas on Monday.
To allow that to happen, the BMA has agreed to suspend not only Tuesday’s strike action, but also the following two walk-outs.
But the joint statement – put out by Acas – makes it clear it is only a temporary suspension at this stage.
The BMA now has until 13 January to start industrial action.
However, the BBC understands hospitals have already cancelled more than 4,000 routine operations and treatments, including knee and hip replacements, as they were told to start planning for strike action once the BMA announced the dates in early November.