News

05.07.16

Trust must be rebuilt before any new junior doctor contract is introduced

The new contract painstakingly negotiated between junior doctors and the government after a series of strikes has been rejected by the British Medical Association (BMA), leading to the resignation of the head of the junior doctors committee.

Junior doctors and medical students voted 58% against the contract on a 68% turnout.

Dr Johann Malawana, who led the strikes and endorsed the new contract as “a good deal for junior doctors,” resigned, saying his position was “untenable”.

He said: “Having spoken to many junior doctors across the country in recent weeks it was clear that, while some felt the new contract represented an improved offer, others had reservations about what it would mean for their working lives, their patients and the future delivery of care in the NHS.

“There was also considerable anger and mistrust towards the government’s handling of this dispute. These concerns need to be fully addressed before any new contract can come into effect.

“There is much to do to in order to rebuild the trust that has been eroded over the last year. The government must now do the right thing, accept the outcome of this vote and work constructively with the BMA to address junior doctors’ concerns with the new contract.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “It is extremely disappointing that junior doctors have voted against this contract, which was agreed with and endorsed by the leader of the BMA Junior Doctors’ Committee and supported by senior NHS leaders.

“The BMA’s figures show that only forty per cent of those eligible actually voted against this contract, and a third of BMA members didn’t vote at all. We will now consider the outcome.”

The strikes, in protest at the antisocial hours pay offered in a new version of the contract, began in February with partial strikes and escalated to 48-hour strikes and full withdrawal of care, leading to non-essential operations being cancelled as hospitals struggled to cover staffing shortages.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “I am profoundly disappointed the BMA has rejected the proposed new contract for junior doctors. It is imperative that patients will not be made to suffer any further impact as a result of the rejection of the contract.”

Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "I am disappointed that we have still not reached agreement on the junior doctors’ contract, a situation which is causing uncertainly for junior doctors, patients and the wider NHS.  We will work with our own trainees to address their concerns and improve the non-contractual elements of their working lives, and will issue new guidance to support them in the coming months."

(Image c. Frank Augstein from PA Images)

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