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Junior doctors reject government’s attempts to re-start contract negotiations

Junior doctors have rejected the government’s attempts to kick start the contract negotiation process a head of a September ‘deadline for agreement’.

The BMA is now calling on the government to reverse their hardline stance – that a new contract will be imposed if there are no new talks – and work with junior doctors in a genuine negotiation without artificial deadlines.

At a meeting of the BMA’s junior doctor committee, doctors voted not to re-enter contract negotiations with NHS Employers. This follows the government’s insistence that the BMA accepts all of the recent recommendations on a new contract made by the pay review body – the DDRB – without question by mid-September.

This would not allow junior doctors to negotiate over proposals the BMA believes are unsafe for patients, unfair to doctors and undermine the future of the NHS.

The BMA is clear that what the government is proposing is unacceptable. In order to get the BMA back around the table it is vital that they reverse their position on the DDRB’s recommendations that would:

– Extend routine working hours from 60 hours per week to 90. It is unacceptable that working at 9pm on a Saturday is viewed the same as working at 9am on a Tuesday.

– Remove vital safeguards which discourage employers from making junior doctors work dangerously long hours, and in doing so protect both patient and doctor safety.

– See pay no longer matching with the experience junior doctors’ gain through their training.

The BMA claims it wants to reach agreement on a new contract that protects patient safety and doctors’ wellbeing. However, talks with the government stalled last year over plans to remove vital safeguards designed to prevent doctors working dangerously long hours and, 10 months on, nothing in the government’s offer has changed, the BMA says.

Junior doctors are also not prepared to accept changes that will devalue the profession or water down their pay through an expansion of ‘plain time’. Like all NHS staff, junior doctors provide care for their patients around the clock and this commitment should be reflected in their rate of pay.

Dr Kitty Mohan, BMA junior doctor committee co-chair, said: “The UK government seems quite oblivious to the fact that junior doctors care for their patients all day, all night, seven days a week. And that, despite the safeguards in place, we still hear examples of junior doctors working days on end or 90 hour weeks.

“Last October, after more than a year of negotiations, talks with the government stalled after it became clear they were prepared to see these safeguards diluted even further regardless of the consequences for patients and doctors. It has quickly become clear that the so-called negotiations offered by Jeremy Hunt last month in his ultimatum to junior doctors offer nothing to address those concerns.

“The government has said it wants to negotiate but this ‘offer’ on the table is an imposition in all but name. It would be letting down our members and the patients for whom they care to simply go along with a government hell-bent on getting something signed, sealed and delivered as quickly as possible.

“This is simply unacceptable. Junior doctors are not prepared to agree contract changes that would risk patient safety and doctors’ well-being. This was our position in October and – in the absence of any attempt by the government to address our concerns – remains our position today.

“We want a contract that is good for patients, fair for doctors and good for the NHS. That means instead of imposing changes on junior doctors, the government should put aside its artificial deadlines, its imposed recommendations and work with the BMA on genuine negotiations.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of the NHS Employers, said: “As the BMA know, our approach to contract discussions has always been based on providing safe working hours for doctors in training, as well as stability of pay and agreed and fair work schedules. Whilst the Doctors and Dentists Review Body endorsed the broad direction of travel, there was still much to do, and we accepted their encouragement to discuss these issues – including the BMA concerns – further.

“Employers across the NHS are extremely disappointed to hear that the BMA Junior Doctor Committee have decided to refuse to enter contract negotiations with NHS Employers. While consultants continue to engage in productive negotiation with us it is a real shame that we do not see the same approach from junior doctors.”

Read more on the contract negotiations.

 

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One Response to “Junior doctors reject government’s attempts to re-start contract negotiations”

  1. mct.morrison says:

    It would appear that, in making recommendations about CONTRACTS, the DDRB is going beyond its ‘terms of reference’ in that it was set up to make recommendations about PAY. As it took on this recent role at the request of Govt., its ‘independence’ must be called into question – yet again!

    It would appear that the Govt. does not understand the meaning of the word ‘negotiation’! Would they accept that their present stance is ‘dictatorial’?

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