The letter says: “We are aware that you have expressed the view that some misunderstandings have developed about the new contract and a pilot would provide an opportunity for a clearer appreciation of what the new contract does and doesn’t do in particular areas. It would also allow genuine progress towards your manifesto commitment of high-quality emergency care across seven days of the week.”

However, the MPs also raised concerns about the Health Secretary’s assertion that current contract arrangements are the cause of weekend deaths: “The lack of any robust research proving a causal link between junior doctor staffing arrangements and the number of patients who die within 30 days of a weekend admission needs to be addressed.

“As part of the independent evaluation, we would suggest an audit of mortality cases to identify the cause of death and whether it could have been avoided. This work could assess the impact of nursing ratios, access to diagnostic imaging and consultant cover as well as the contribution of junior doctor cover.”