Jeremy Hunt launches urgent inquiry into junior doctors' morale

Doctors have threatened to quit the profession over a new contract

Jeremy Hunt has launched an urgent inquiry into the level of junior doctors’ morale and welfare as large numbers threaten to quit the profession over being forced to accept a new contract.

The Health Secretary appointed Dame Sue Bailey of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to lead the review.

Mr Hunt has been widely criticised by junior doctors, who voted to strike over his new proposed contract by 98 per cent.

The deal, which would change regulations around working anti-social hours, has been hugely controversial. The Government says it will improve patient care at the weekends but doctors say it will incentivise unsafe rostering and leave doctors who work the longest hours worse off.

An unweighted survey of doctors reported by the Independent found that 90 per cent would consider quitting were the contract unilaterally imposed.

Mr Hunt today said he would impose the contract unilaterally.

The Government’s chief negotiator Sir David Dalton recommended the launch of the review, which comes on the same day as Mr Hunt announced he would force doctors to accept the deal.

The Royal College of GPs warned today that the move would “inevitably damage morale across the NHS”.

“The last few months have been incredibly tough for junior doctors, and have led to the lowest morale across our profession in a generation,” said Dr Maureen Baker.

“Imposing a contract, in its current form, is asking junior doctors – the future of our NHS – to work under conditions in which they neither feel valued nor able to deliver safe patient care.”

Junior Doctors Contract: What's in it and why are people so angry about it?

Labour’s shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander said earlier this week that Mr Hunt had caused a “fundamental breakdown of trust” between the profession and Government.

Johann Malawana, chair of the junior doctors committee at the British Medical Association, warned that he Government had “totally alienated a generation of junior doctors”.

The BMA has pledged to look at all available options to make sure the contract is not enforced.