Hospital Dr News

Government offers junior doctor contract concessions according to leaked letter

The government’s lead negotiator on the junior contract has offered significant concessions to break the standoff ahead of the next strike.

A leaked letter from Sir David Dalton suggests the government is prepared to move on Saturdays being paid at standard rates – an issue which the BMA has steadfastly opposed.

The offer includes new limits on weekend working and enhanced pay rates for some doctors working Saturdays.

The offer is a clear attempt to break the impasse which this month saw junior doctors take part in their first strike for more than 40 years.

The letter leaked to HSJ is from Sir David, the hospital chief executive who the government brought in to lead its side in the talks after Christmas, to BMA junior doctor committee chair Johann Malawana.

It spells out a string of proposals to make weekend working for trainee medics more acceptable.

It also reveals details of the discussions on how to ensure changes do not result in doctors working excessive hours.

Negotiations between both sides are scheduled to continue today from 10am.

The letter, dated 16 January, includes proposals that:

– Any trainee who works one in three Saturdays or more will be paid an enhanced rate for all the Saturdays they work. This could be equal to proposed unsocial hours rates for nights (50%) or Sundays (33%).

– Junior doctors will not be expected to work consecutive Saturdays.

– Unsocial hours rates would begin on Saturdays at 5pm rather than 7pm.

– Unsocial hours rates for all junior doctors would start at 9pm Monday to Friday instead of the original proposal of 10pm.

– Trainees will be able to request a rapid review of their schedules if they are concerned their training time is being affected by weekend rotas.

Dalton’s letter is reported as saying: “I believe that this offer in relation to working on Saturdays addresses your concerns about excessive working on Saturdays, and offers particular benefits to those trainees who work most frequently on Saturdays.”

He adds: “Employers are clear that payment of plain time for shifts starting on a Saturday after 7am is fundamental. We have clarified that this must be applied to a substantial element of Saturday, and for a substantial number of the trainee workforce.

“This will enable the NHS to be more responsive to the needs of patients and to support safe and reliable care across the seven day week.”

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