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Torrent of angry doctors flood to join BMA

Unprecedented 5,000 doctors become new BMA members in a week since contract ballot

Tuesday, 06 October 2015

More than 5,000 doctors have rushed to join the BMA over the past week in anger at the government’s threat to impose a new contract on junior doctors, the BMA revealed this morning. It warned the government that the surge in new members shows just how frustrated junior doctors are, and that they will stand and fight together against contract changes that would endanger their own welfare as well as patients’ safety.

In the week since the BMA balloted its members in England over the government’s action, until yesterday, 5,451 doctors – the majority of them juniors – have become new members of the BMA. The BMA said this significant rise in membership is unprecedented, and serves to highlight the level of doctors’ anger and frustration.

It warned that junior doctors are furious that, rather than work with them to address their concerns, the government has confirmed that it will impose the new contract on doctors in training from next August – despite the BMA’s clear aim to reach agreement on a new contract that protects patient safety and doctors’ wellbeing. Its junior doctor committee is demanding that before it re-enters negotiations with NHS Employers and the government, they must withdraw their threat to impose the new contract and also “provide the following concrete assurances”:

  • proper recognition of unsocial hours as premium time
  • no disadvantage for those working unsocial hours compared to the current system
  • no disadvantage for those working less than full time and taking parental leave compared with the current system
  • pay for all work done
  • proper hours safeguards protecting patients and their doctors

BMA council chair Dr Mark Porter (pictured) warned: “These new membership figures are an indication of the anger felt by not just junior doctors, but the profession as a whole. Instead of genuine negotiations, the government has insisted that junior doctors accept recommendations without question. This would not have allowed the BMA to negotiate over proposals we believe are unsafe for patients, unfair for doctors and undermine the future of the NHS.

“The BMA’s junior doctor committee has been clear about the assurances they are demanding from the government. The surge in membership shows doctors from across the profession are behind them and that we are standing together as one profession.”

Dr Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA junior doctor committee, added: “We have consistently been clear that junior doctors are not prepared to agree contract changes that would risk patients’ safety and doctors’ wellbeing. The unprecedented number of doctors joining the BMA and the thousands who have attended rallies across England is clear evidence of the anger and frustration felt by junior doctors.

“Until the government lifts the threat of contract imposition and gives the BMA the concrete assurances we require we will continue with the action junior doctors are demanding. The time is well overdue for ministers to listen to what junior doctors are telling them.”

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