Junior doctors vote: Department of Health in turmoil as minister resigns and new contract rejected

Alistair Burt insists his departure is not linked to the BMA ballot

Siobhan Fenton@SiobhanFenton
Tuesday 05 July 2016 12:59
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Minister for Care and Support Alistair Burt
Minister for Care and Support Alistair Burt

A Conservative health minister has resigned following a vote from junior doctors to reject new contract proposals.

Shadow of State for Care and Support Alistair Burt has announced he will be standing down in September.

He told MPs his decision is not related to recent events and he had informed Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt and David Cameron of the news "a few weeks ago."

Mr Burt is MP for North East Bedfordshire was appointed Minister of State at the Department of Health in May 2015.

Junior doctors voted 58 per cent to 42 per cent to reject new contract proposals in a referendum. 68 per cent of eligible members voted.

The British Medical Association had urged its members to accept the new contract.

The proposals followed six strikes by doctors amid a dispute over conditions in the new contract.

Dr Johann Malawana, Chair of the BMA junior doctors committee, also announced his resignation shortly after the ballot result was announced.

In a statement 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."

Junior doctors strike - all you need to know

The most recent contract proposals had been seen by some as a final opportunity to resolve the dispute.

Some doctors have described the contract as unsafe and unfair, however Jeremy Hunt has insisted the conditions are reasonable and will improve quality of care for patients.

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