The government’s representative in the consultant contract negotiations have slammed the BMA for walking away from the talks.
NHS Employers expressed “significant disappointment” at the decision by the BMA last night to cease negotiations.
It also criticised the method saying the union’s late night announcement via social media – without notice – contradicted an agreement only hours earlier that further joint work on the consultants’ contract would be done next week.
The BMA ended the negotiations over new consultant and junior contracts saying the government was refusing to agree necessary safeguards to protect doctors from working dangerously long hours and compromising patient safety.
Director of employment relations and reward at the NHS Employers Gill Bellord said: “This is a hugely disappointing way to conclude a year and a half of serious discussions.
“All our talks with the BMA have been aimed at ensuring safer working hours for doctors in training, as well as providing them with stability of pay and agreed work schedules that take account of educational needs. Underpinning all of this is the essential need to deliver safe care for patients.”
The BMA also criticised the government over the lack of detail being provided on how to introduce seven-day services and, at the same time, stop progressional pay – the two big issues in the contract negotiations.
Bellord added: “Our work with the BMA over the past 18 months had reached the stage of detailed discussion on contract changes that are fully justifiable because they would enable employers to organise clinical services so that patients can access high quality services every day of the week.
“Throughout all of these negotiations, we have been offering safeguards to protect the wellbeing of individual doctors, so it is a source of personal and professional disappointment that the BMA team feel able to throw our joint progress so far out of the window, and to walk away from what is currently on the table.”
NHS Employers will make a formal report to health ministers in the coming weeks on the breakdown in contract negotiations.
A spokesperson said the Department of Health is likely to want to consider what steps the government can and should take to move forward, and that local employers will have to consider whether they need to make changes to both consultant and junior contracts by other means.