Junior doctors to strike next week after talks founder

4 Jan 16

Junior doctors in England are to take strike action starting next Tuesday after talks with NHS Employers to resolve a dispute over new contractual terms broke down.

The British Medical Association announced that negotiations in the dispute, which had restarted in December, had not reached an agreement.

BMA council chair Dr Mark Porter said the discussions had failed to address junior doctors’ concerns about working hours and recognition for those working unsocial hours.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt wants to introduce a new contract that includes evening and weekends as plain time and not premium time as part of moves to improve care at these times.

As a result, the BMA has said doctors would be paid less for working unsocial hours than they are under the current contract, with those working in specialties with a high proportion of weekend and evening working, such as emergency medicine, affected disproportionately.

The BMA is also concerned that financial penalties faced by NHS providers for overworking doctors would be removed in the new contract and replaced by an inspection regime led by the Care Quality Commission. It was not clear how this would achieve the required controls on hours, the association said.

Under the plans for industrial action, junior doctors will only provide emergency care from 8am on Tuesday 12 January to 8am Wednesday 13 January, and from 8am on Tuesday 26 January to 8am Thursday 28 January. This will be followed by a full withdrawal of labour from 8am to 5pm on Wednesday 10 February.

Porter said the proposed contract was “unsafe and unfair”.

He added: “Throughout this process the BMA has been clear that it wants to reach agreement on a contract that is good for patients, junior doctors and the NHS.

“After weeks of further negotiations, it is clear that the government is still not taking junior doctors’ concerns seriously. Furthermore, the government has repeatedly dragged its feet throughout this process, initially rejecting our offer of talks and failing to make significant movement during negotiations.”

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