Hospital Dr News

Junior doctor strike: trainees vote overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action 

Junior doctors have today overwhelmingly voted in favour of taking industrial action after the government’s threat to impose a new junior doctor contract in England from August next year.

Following a ballot of more than 37,000 junior doctors in England, more than 99% have voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98% for full strike action, demonstrating the strength of feeling amongst the profession. 76% of eligible doctors voted.

The BMA said they have been left with no alternative to junior doctor strike action due to the government’s continued threat to impose a contract that they claim is unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors.

The union has approached Acas to offer conciliatory talks with the health secretary and NHS Employers to clarify the conflicting information coming from government over the past weeks.

Dr Mark Porter, BMA council chair, said: “We regret the inevitable disruption that this will cause but it is the government’s adamant insistence on imposing a contract that is unsafe for patients in the future, and unfair for doctors now and in the future, that has brought us to this point.

“Patients are doctors’ first priority, which is why, even with such a resounding mandate, we are keen to avert the need for industrial action, which is why we have approached Acas to offer conciliatory talks with the health secretary and NHS Employers to clarify the conflicting information coming from government over the past weeks.

“The health secretary is right when he says this action is ‘wholly avoidable’. Our message to him is that junior doctors have today made their views perfectly clear but that it is still possible to get back around the negotiating table to deliver a contract that is safe for patients, contains the necessary contractual safeguards to prevent junior doctors being overworked and properly recognises evening and weekend work.”

Last week, the BMA announced the days – in advance of the vote conclusion – for junior doctor strike action:

– 8am, Tuesday 1 December to 8am Wednesday 2 December: Emergency care only

– from 8am to 5pm, Tuesday 8 December: Full walk out

– from 8am to 5pm, Wednesday 16 December: Full walk out

The BMA and NHS Employers have been discussing the junior doctor contract since 2012, but no satisfactory progress has been made. The BMA pulled out of negotiations after the government said it would impose a contract in August 2016 regardless.

The Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body, who were asked to advise the government on contract reform, recommended 23 changes to the contract. However, the government informed the BMA that 22 of these are “non negotiable”.

Hunt has also recently claimed in the press that he has offered junior doctors an 11% pay rise as part of this new contract. However, this just concerns basic pay and ignores the plan to remove banding pay and change the classification of “sociable” hours. When taken into consideration, it looks more like a pay cut for most.

11% is also lower than juniors were originally offered – it started at 15%.

There are also big changes for those working less than full time and those wanting to undertake academic work. These doctors will lose their pay progression, in effect being financially punished for gaining a more rounded skill set and keeping abreast of medical research.

In order to re-enter negotiations, the junior doctor committee has said the threat to impose a contract needs to be withdrawn, and that they provide assurances on the following:

– recognition of antisocial hours as premium time

– no disadvantage for those working antisocial hours compared to the current system

– no disadvantage for those working less than full time and taking parental leave compared to the current system

– pay for all work done

– proper hours safeguards protecting patients and their doctors.

NHS Employer’s view.

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One Response to “Junior doctor strike: trainees vote overwhelmingly in favour of taking industrial action ”

  1. mct.morrison says:

    It is a shame that it has come to this; but, as I see it, the juniors were left with no choice.

    I hope the Sec. of State takes up the offer of going to ACAS. If he does, it will be interesting to see if THEY can get the parties to come to a sensible agreement.

    I would point out that The Review Body should NOT be ‘designing’ a contract – that is NOT their remit! Their job is to determine ‘pay’. Once a contract is AGREED, then the RB should ‘price’ it.

    Incidentally, the article did not mention the ‘response rate’! But I would expect it to be high.

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