Skip to main content

Junior Doctors deserve better from the government



So here we are. Junior doctors across England are to be balloted by the BMA (the doctors union if you like) over potential industrial action in response to the Government’s plans to impose a new contract on junior doctors from August 2016.  So how did we get here? Let us be clear. This isn't simply about pay.  It is also about patient safety.

Last month the BMA’s UK junior doctors committee rejected the Government’s attempts to force through a new contract over fears for patient and doctor safety, and opted not to re-enter contract negotiations. The decision was made after it became clear that junior doctors would not be able to negotiate over proposals the BMA believes are unsafe for patients, unfair to doctors and undermine the future of the NHS.

The BMA say it has always wanted to reach agreement on a new contract that protects patient safety and doctors’ wellbeing, but rather than work with junior doctors to address their concerns the government has confirmed that it will impose a new contract on doctors in training from August 2016. The Department of Health has it will look to introduce a new contract by August 2016 for new junior doctors and new appointees when they move to new positions but remain as junior doctors. NHS Employers will continue work to prepare a new contract for August 2016.  They say they will impose this new contract whilst calling on the BMA to negotiate.  

In order to re-enter negotiations, the junior doctor committee is demanding that the Government and NHS Employers withdraw their threat to impose a new contract, and that they provide the following concrete assurances: 

  • proper recognition of antisocial hours as premium time
  • no disadvantage for those working antisocial hours compared to the current system
  • no disadvantage for those working less than full time and taking parental leave compared to the current system3
  • pay for all work done
  • proper hours safeguards protecting patients and their doctors4

Commenting on the decision, the newly elected chair of the BMA’s UK junior doctors committee, Dr Johann Malawana, said:

“Today’s decision is a reflection of the anger felt by the thousands of junior doctors who have told us that the Government’s position is not acceptable.

“The BMA has been clear that it wants to deliver a contract that protects patient safety and is fair to both junior doctors and the health service as a whole. We can only do this if the government is prepared to work collaboratively in a genuine negotiation. Unfortunately, they have chosen to ride roughshod over the concerns of doctors with their threat of imposition.

“Instead of proper negotiations, the Government has insisted that junior doctors accept recommendations made by the DDRB without question. This would not allow the BMA to negotiate over proposals we believe are unsafe for patients, unfair for doctors and undermine the future of the NHS.

“The contract they want to impose will remove vital protections on safe working patterns, devalues evening and weekend work, and make specialties such as emergency medicine and general practice less attractive even though the NHS is already struggling to recruit and retain doctors to these areas of medicine.

“We remain committed to agreeing a contract that protects against junior doctors routinely working long hours, delivers a fair system of pay and does not disadvantage those in flexible working and we will not stand idly by as the Government imposes a contract which undermines that.

“We’ve already seen reports of high numbers of doctors considering leaving the NHS to work abroad6. These figures should serve as a serious wake-up call to the Government that there is a real risk that junior doctors will speak with their feet. To lose a large swathe of doctors in the early stages of their careers would be a disaster for the NHS.

“We have been clear. Junior doctors are not prepared to agree contract changes that would risk patient safety and doctors’ wellbeing. This has been our position all along and in the absence of any attempts by the Government to address our concerns remains our position today.”

The government has picked an unnecessary fight with junior doctors.  The call on the BMA to negotiate and yet hold a gun to their heads.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

Ian Duncan-Smith says he wants to make those on benefits 'better people'!

By any account, the government's austerity strategy is utilitarian. It justifies its approach by the presumed potential ends. It's objective is to cut the deficit, but it has also adopted another objective which is specifically targeted. It seeks to drive people off benefits and 'back to work'.  The two together are toxic to the poorest in society. Those least able to cope are the most affected by the cuts in benefits and the loss of services. It is the coupling of these two strategic aims that make their policies ethically questionable. For, by combining the two, slashing the value of benefits to make budget savings while also changing the benefits system, the highest burden falls on a specific group, those dependent on benefits. For the greater good of the majority, a minority group, those on benefits, are being sacrificed; sacrificed on the altar of austerity. And they are being sacrificed in part so that others may be spared. Utilitarian ethics considers the ba

Prioritising people in nursing care.

There has been in recent years concern that care in the NHS has not been sufficiently 'patient centred', or responsive to the needs of the patient on a case basis. It has been felt in care that it as been the patient who has had to adapt to the regime of care, rather than the other way around. Putting patients at the centre of care means being responsive to their needs and supporting them through the process of health care delivery.  Patients should not become identikit sausages in a production line. The nurses body, the Nursing and Midwifery Council has responded to this challenge with a revised code of practice reflection get changes in health and social care since the previous code was published in 2008. The Code describes the professional standards of practice and behaviour for nurses and midwives. Four themes describe what nurses and midwives are expected to do: prioritise people practise effectively preserve safety, and promote professionalism and trust. The

When Finance Drives Destruction

Tackling climate change means stopping the funding of rainforest destruction, says a significant study commissioned by the World Wildlife Fund.  The UK's financial services have provided directly over £8.7 billion to 167 different traders, processors, and buyers of forest-risk commodities (cocoa, rubber, timber, soy, beef, palm oil, pulp & paper) from 2013 to 2021.   With direct and indirect investment,  the figure rises to a staggering £200 bn.  Whilst not all that investment is in destructive projects,  the study concludes there is little transparency on the risk.  Finance is the oil in the economic machine.  But it also drives decisions. We all know the importance of money. We borrow to invest. So much depends on it, such as company pensions.  Do we really know what our pension pots are doing? We invest for the future. But what kind of future? Is all investment good?  Much investment is bad. Investment drives the nature of our economy. It drives our decisions as individuals,