NHS: Controversial new doctor contract could put care of news mothers and babies at risk, leading medics warn

'We need to invest in our workforce and support our staff, not discourage recruitment, innovation and integration between healthcare professionals'

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The controversial new junior doctor contract could put the care of new mothers and babies at risk, leading medics have said.

The Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists (RCOG) said the proposed contract, which would change normal working hours to include evenings and Saturdays, risked a return to “the bad old days of over-burdened junior doctors in danger of giving sub-standard care”.

They say the proposals would have a direct impact on patient safety, particularly in the intense working environment of a labour ward.

RCOG President Dr David Richmond called on doctors’ union the British Medical Association to re-enter negotiations, but also urged Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, not to impose a contract.

“Coming so soon after the Kirkup Report into Morecambe Bay, [the proposals] appear short-sighted and contradictory,” he said.

 

Dr Bill Kirkup’s report into the deaths of babies at Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust, published in March, has led to a major review of NHS maternity care.

“We need to invest in our workforce and support our staff, not discourage recruitment, innovation and integration between healthcare professionals,” Dr Richmond said.

Medical royal colleges representing paediatricians, psychiatrists and GPs have also spoken out against the junior doctor contract proposals.

The Government says the proposals, which could see some doctors take a pay cut, will modernise NHS care and has accused the BMA of derailing negotiations.

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