The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, has accused the British Medical Association of behaving in a ‘totally irresponsible way’ over the ongoing dispute about the new junior doctors’ contract.

A strike has been slated for Wednesday 10 February and a livid health secretary has accused the BMA of ‘spreading misinformation’ about the terms being offered by the government in order to stir up a sense of grievance in the union.

The BMA  has since accused Hunt of attempting to scare patents and the public by brandishing skewed figures about hospital death rates at weekends.

The government intends to launch the new contract for junior doctors as part of its drive to put the NHS on a seven-day working basis, however some junior medics believe that, under the new contract, they will be forced to work longer hours for less money.

In an interview on the Andrew Marr Show on Sunday, Hunt urged the BMA to return to the negotiating table instead of going on strike on Wednesday.