BMA says it will stop Jeremy Hunt's forced junior doctor contract using 'all options' available to it

The Government has decided to impose the contract without the agreement of doctors

Jon Stone
Thursday 11 February 2016 15:11
Junior doctors protest outside St Thomas Hospital in London
Junior doctors protest outside St Thomas Hospital in London

The British Medical Association has pledged to stop a new contract for junior that the Government says it will impose unilaterally without agreement.

Dr Johann Malawana, the BMA’s junior doctor committee chair, did not rule out further strikes and said doctors would “consider all options open to us”.

Jeremy Hunt, the Health Secretary, told the House of Commons on Thursday that he had the backing of NHS bosses to impose the new contract, which the BMA has been negotiating.

The new terms of employment re-define anti-social hours and make it cheaper for hospitals to roster doctors on weekends and evenings.

The Government says this will improve care at weekends and in evenings but junior doctors worry that it will affect patient safety by encouraging unsafe shift patterns, and also that doctors who work the very longest hours will lose out financially.

“The Government’s shambolic handling of this process from start to finish has totally alienated a generation of junior doctors – the hospital doctors and GPs of the future, and there is a real risk that some will vote with their feet,” Dr Malawana said.

“Our message to the Government is clear: junior doctors cannot and will not accept a contract that is bad for the future of patient care, the profession and the NHS as a whole, and we will consider all options open to us.”

He added that the forced imposition of the contract was a "sign of total failure" on the part of the Government and that in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland devolved administrations had managed not to alienate doctors.

A survey of junior doctors reported by Independent on Wednesday found that over 90 per cent of junior doctors would consider leaving the profession if the contract was imposed without agreement.

Mr Hunt says the Conservatives have a mandate from their manifesto commitments on the health service to make the change. The Tory manifesto made reference to creating a so-called "seven-day NHS" which Mr Hunt says the old contract is disrupting.

The two sides could be in for a long industrial dispute. A number of polls have shown widespread public support for junior doctors in the dispute while the latest poll ahead of Wednesday's strike showed large majorities of people blamed the Government for the on-going nature of the dispute.

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