News

22.09.15

Junior doctor contracts in Wales will remain unchanged

Junior doctors in Wales will not have a new contract imposed on them following agreements between the Welsh government and the BMA.

The government confirmed that it will keep the current contract for doctors in training, following a similar decision in Scotland last month.

BMA Wales junior doctors’ committee chair, Dr Bethan Roberts, said she was “delighted” with the government’s decision to follow in Scotland’s steps instead of imposing an “unsafe and unfair” contract.

She added: “It is welcome news to junior doctors in Wales, as we have been pressing the Welsh government for some time to adopt this approach. An imposed contract would have been hugely detrimental to junior doctors and the NHS, and we are pleased that our constructive working relationship with Welsh government has led us to this position today.”

A spokesperson for the government noted their “positive and constructive” relationship with BMA Wales, hoping that this partnership would continue.

“We believe in proceeding by dialogue, discussion and agreement, and that is the relationship we have with junior doctors in Wales,” they added.

They also said that the government would reflect on developments elsewhere in the UK as they emerge, but added: “In the meantime, we will continue to service the current new deal contract for junior doctors in Wales and only move towards negotiations when the time is right.”

Stark contrast to England

The news has come just a week after NHS Employers decided to impose a revised contract to all junior doctors in England despite the BMA’s junior doctors’ committee refusing to negotiate.

In July, Jeremy Hunt, the health secretary, gave the BMA until September to negotiate on a new contract for junior doctors and consultants – but threatened that if negotiations could not be reached, the government would impose a new contract.

This was faced with extreme backlash from the BMA committee of junior doctors, with its members voting against the “unacceptable” negotiations.

It said the contract would remove “vital” safeguards which discourage employers from making junior doctors work dangerously long hours and, in doing so, protect both patient and doctor safety. Additionally, pay would no longer match the experience junior doctors gain through their training.

Dr Kitty Mohan, BMA junior doctor committee co-chair, said at the time that junior doctors already worked all day and night throughout the whole week, with many working 90-hour weeks.

She added: “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.”

But just last week NHS Employers stated the government’s timetable is “clear” and that a new contract will be introduced from August 2016 despite BMA complaints.

Paul Wallace, director of employment relations and reward at NHS Employers, said at the time: “We remain disappointed not to have reached an agreement with the BMA junior doctors’ committee. The reality is a revised contract will be given to all junior doctors and we will continue to focus on that over a challenging timetable.”

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