DH and BMA resolve junior doctors dispute

19 May 16

Junior doctors will be asked to vote on a new contract after the government and British Medical Association resolved their dispute.

News came late yesterday afternoon that a deal had been struck, ending a bitter impasse that had seen junior doctors engage in a series of escalating industrial actions over changes to their pay and working arrangements, in particular evening and weekend work.

Just last month, the doctors took part in a two-day strike that saw them withdraw all care, including emergency cover. However, both sides were persuaded back to the negotiating table in early May.

An ACAS statement released yesterday confirmed that the contract had been accepted by all parties. Some elements of the contract will, if agreed by a referendum of BMA members, be implemented from August and all junior doctors will move to the new arrangements between October this year and August next year. No industrial action will be called while the referendum is under way.

Under the new contract, the pay rise offered to junior doctors has been reduced from 13% to 10% and 11% and extra pay for night shifts is being reduced from 50% to 37%. The contract also no longer discriminates between “normal” and “unsocial” hours but doctors who work more weekends will be able to earn more.

It will also bring in improvements for women doctors going on maternity leave, enabling them to catch up on their training.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt said: “We welcome this significant agreement which delivers important changes to the junior doctors' contract necessary to deliver a safer seven day NHS.

“The talks have been constructive and positive and highlighted many areas outside the contract where further work is necessary to value the vital role of junior doctors and improve the training and support they are given. This deal represents a definitive step forward for patients, for doctors, and for the NHS as a whole.”

For the BMA, junior doctors committee chair Dr Johann Malawana said the talks had been “intense but constructive”.

He added: “Junior doctors have always wanted to agree a safe and fair contract, one that recognises and values the contribution junior doctors make to the NHS, addresses the recruitment and retention crisis in parts of the NHS and provides the basis for delivering a world-class health service.

“I believe that what has been agreed today delivers on these principles, is a good deal for junior doctors and will ensure that they can continue to deliver high-quality care for patients. This represents the best and final way of resolving the dispute and this is what I will be saying to junior doctors in the weeks leading up to the referendum on the new contract.”

The referendum will be held between 17 June and 1 July, with the result to be announced on 6 July.

  • Vivienne Russell

    Vivienne Russell is managing editor of Public Finance magazine and publicfinance.co.uk

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