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New junior doctors’ contract will be imposed from the summer

Jeremy Hunt tells Parliament that new junior doctors' contract will be imposed

Ingrid Torjesen

Thursday, 11 February 2016

Jeremy Hunt has said that he will impose a new contract on junior doctors this summer as negotiations with the BMA over the new contract has failed.

Mr Hunt said the government's "door remained open" for three years, and that to reach a deal it was necessary for both sides to compromise.

"The BMA proved ultimately unwilling to do that," he said.

The Government made a "best and final" offer to the BMA on Wednesday afternoon and the BMA was given a 3pm deadline on Wednesday to respond and rejected it.

Sir David Dalton, the government’s lead negotiator, wrote to Mr Hunt and urged “the government to do whatever it deems necessary to end uncertainty for the service and to make sure that a new contract is in place which is as close as possible to the final position put forward to the BMA”.

Mr Hunt told MPs that this "best and final" offer will now be imposed. Under this contract, junior doctors will receive a basic salary increase of 13.5 per cent and no trainee working within contracted hours will see their pay cut, he said. Junior doctors working 1 in 4 or more Saturdays will receive a pay premium of 30 per cent for Saturdays worked, no doctor will ever be rostered consecutive weekends, and the maximum number of consecutive long days will be reduced from 7 to 5. Fines for trusts which over-work doctors will also be increased.

However, the British Medical Association has indicated that this matter is far from closed and that it is "considering all options". This would include further industrial action which might escalate to an all-out walkout involving the withdrawal of emergency cover.

Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair, said: “Junior doctors cannot and will not accept a contract that is bad for the future of patient care, the profession and the NHS as a whole.”

Instead of working with the BMA to reach an agreement that is in the best interests of patients and junior doctors, the government has rejected “a fair and affordable offer” put forward by the BMA, he said, and now wants to impose a “flawed contract”.

“This is clearly a political fight for the Government rather than an attempt to come to a reasonable solution for all junior doctors. If it succeeds with its bullying approach of imposing a contract on junior doctors that has been roundly rejected by the profession it will no doubt seek to do the same for other NHS staff.”

Danny Mortimer, Chief Executive of NHS Employers, said that he was “saddened and hugely frustrated” that an agreed deal has not been reached with the BMA.

“The NHS needs certainty on this contract and a continuation of a dispute would be harmful to patients, and the NHS,” he said. “I believe the new offer is fair and safe for doctors, and patients.”

Dr Johnny Marshall, Director of Policy at NHS Confederation, said: “It is disappointing that the contract negotiations have not reached an agreed solution. An engaged clinical workforce is critical for the NHS to deliver the best care to patients. Following today’s announcement it is important that non-pay related concerns raised by junior doctors particularly around training and morale are addressed.”

Mr Hunt announced that Prof Dame Sue Bailey, President of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, will lead a review on junior doctors’ morale to tackle some of the “wider and more deep-seated issues” uncovered by the negotiation process.

Dr Marshall welcomed this review.

Picture: London, 10 February 2016. St Mary's Hospital, Paddington - Junior doctors strike against planned government changes to their pay and working conditions. Credit: Ms Jane Campbell / Shutterstock.com

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