Junior doctors threaten rebellion over consultants contracts

20 Jun 02
The British Medical Association will launch a charm offensive to prevent a split in the doctors' union over the new consultants' contract.

21 June 2002

Details of the proposed new deal emerged last week and were backed by consultants' leaders, but were immediately opposed by junior doctors. Much of their anger was directed at new rules limiting newly appointed consultants' private practice, by giving the NHS exclusive use of up to 48 hours of their time a week.

The juniors' annual conference passed a motion on June 14 demanding that consultants reopen negotiations with the Department of Health. They also insisted that specialist registrars, the grade just below consultant, be given a vote in the upcoming referendum on the new contract.

Dr Trevor Pickersgill, BMA junior doctors' committee chair, said: 'We are unhappy that new consultants are to be treated less favourably. Junior doctors find a number of important areas unacceptable.'

A BMA spokesman said it would publish an information pack shortly and hold a series of roadshows to gain the backing of all hospital doctors.

The BMA's consultants' committee feels it has scored a double victory by averting the government's threat to ban new consultants from private practice for seven years and negotiating a new pay package, giving most consultants pay of more than £90,000 by 2005.

Relations between junior doctors and consultants within the BMA are often fractious, and Association chair Ian Bogle will be the key to winning over the juniors – as a GP he will be viewed as unbiased. He will hope to heal the differences before the BMA's annual conference begins on July 1.


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