latest health care news

06.07.16

Royal College calls for resolution to junior doctors’ dispute without further strikes

Junior doctors and the government have been urged to reach an agreement in their ongoing contract dispute without further strikes.

The NHS has suffered this year from a series of strikes by doctors over pay and working hours.

The British Medical Association (BMA) and the government agreed the terms of a new contract, but it was announced yesterday that BMA members voted to reject it.

In a joint response, Professor Derek Bell, president of the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, and Dr Katherine Walesby, chair of its trainees’ committee, said: “While it is disappointing that negotiations have not reached a successful conclusion, we must recognise that progress was made when all parties returned to talks earlier this year.  We hope that cooperation can continue to enable an urgent resolution without further delay or industrial action.

“We know that many trainees had concerns that they felt hadn’t been addressed by the proposed junior contract. 

“To address these, we must have a junior contract that values the essential role that trainees play in our NHS, and one that is fair to all, including those working less than full time, those taking time out to study, and those working in all medical specialities, including undertaking research and other academic pursuits.”

They also said that trainees must be “protected” following the UK’s vote to leave the European Union, which could lead to changes in working hours regulations.

The Academy of Royal Colleges helped broker the talks between the BMA and the government.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients Association, said: “On behalf of the patients of this country, we are shocked and dismayed at the prospect of the possible continuation of this dispute, especially as we had publically called on the BMA members to vote positively and accept the new agreement.

“The Patients Association believes that the public should have easy access to quality care on a 24/7 basis. The NHS is a publically tax funded service and should be built around the needs of patients. Patients need to have the confidence that they can easily access care when they require it.

“We recognise that junior doctors are the backbone of the NHS, but it is vital that they are available to provide the safe and effective care that patients need. Patients and the NHS cannot face any prospect of further strike action. There have been no winners in this ongoing dispute, instead it’s patients who have been the losers.”

(Image c. Ben Birchall from PA Wire/ Press Association Images)

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