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GPs go forth

BMA announces judicial review and more strike action over contract imposition

The BMA has announced it is launching a judicial review over what is calls the ‘embarrassing’ revelation that the Government failed to carry out an equality impact assessment before imposing a new contract on junior doctors in England.

It has also announced three more 48-hour strikes in March and April, during which junior doctors will only provide emergency care.

Junior doctor leaders said that the failure to undertake an equality impact assessment was ’yet another example of the incompetence which the Government has demonstrated throughout its handling of this dispute’.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt this month announced that he was imposing a contract on junior doctors after talks broke down over the issue of evening and weekend pay, with the Government refusing to step back from its decision to remove ‘unsociable hours’ pay premiums from Saturdays and weekday evenings.

The BMA had said it was looking into the legality of the imposition in an email to junior doctors over the weekend, adding that further strike action was ’inevitable’.

It has announced the dates of the new action. They are:

  • 48-hour emergency care only from 8am, Wednesday 9 March to 8am, Friday 11 March
  • 48-hour emergency care only from 8am, Wednesday 6 April to 8am, Friday 8 April
  • 48-hour emergency care only from 8am, Tuesday 26 April to 8am, Thursday 28 April.

It also revealed that the Government had ‘failed to provide evidence’ that it had had any due regard for equality issues when imposing the contract, as required under the Equality Act 2010.

Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair, said: ’In recent weeks I have heard from thousands of junior doctors across the country, and the resounding message is that they cannot and will not accept what the Government is trying to do.

’It now appears that in trying to push through these changes the Government failed to give proper consideration to the impact this contract could have on junior doctors. This is yet another example of the incompetence which the Government has demonstrated throughout its handling of this dispute.’

He added: ’The Government can avert this action by re-entering talks with the BMA and addressing the outstanding issues and concerns junior doctors have, rather than simply ignoring them.

’If it pushes ahead with plans to impose a contract that junior doctors have resoundingly rejected we will be left with no option but to take this action. The Government must put patients before politics, get back around the table and find a negotiated solution to this dispute.’

A Department of Health spokesperson said: 'Further strike action is completely unnecessary and will mean tens of thousands more patients face cancelled operations – over a contract that was 90% agreed with the BMA and which senior NHS leaders including Simon Stevens have endorsed as fair and safe. The new contract will mean an average 13.5% basic pay rise, and will bring down the maximum number of hours doctors can work. 

‘We urge junior doctors to look at the detail of the contract and the clear benefits it brings.’

What the contract includes

The junior doctor contract imposed by health secretary Jeremy Hunt includes:

  • An increase in basic pay of 13.5%;
  • Redefining the definition of ‘plain time’ to include Saturday from 7am to 5pm;
  • Paying a premium of 30% for Saturday ‘plain time’ working, if the doctor works one in four weekends;
  • Reduce the definition of ‘safe hours’ from 91 to 72 hours a week;
  • Doctors will not work more than four consecutive nights – down from seven currently;
  • The maximum number of consecutive ‘long days’ will be reduced from seven to five;
  • A new ‘Guardian’ role will be introduced, with the authority to impose fines for breaches to agreed working hours, which will be invested in educational resources and facilities for trainees.

Read more here

Readers' comments (30)

  • if you must impose a dangerous, divisive and dastardly contract, make sure it is equally damaging to everyone first!

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  • ’The Government can avert this action by re-entering talks with the BMA'
    I do not believe that BMA said this.

    You do not want to speak to or come near this character. He is not fit for his office, and He should go with the decision he made.

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  • 4:32pm
    "and addressing the outstanding issues and concerns junior doctors have, rather than simply ignoring them." - more than just needing to go through the motions of negotiating.

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  • I think Dr Malawana should replace GPC, including the chair who was awarded a honor (presumably for abandoning his members and agreeing to the government as I see no great service to provided by the GPC or the chair).

    At least he has the guts to take DoH on rather then turning over and ask when they would like GPs to work 7 days/week for nothing

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  • I think it might be a while before Dr Malawana gets a knighthood.

    Perhaps OBE if lucky?

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  • when, oh when will the GPC have the balls to do whats right for the people it purports to represent?

    I am fully behind the JDs but think they should have announced all-out strikes, including emergency work. Its the only way forward to force the hand of the privatisation brigade that is the government.

    Problem is, the GPC folk are all 'seasoned' players - closer to retirement then the folk whose lives they are ruining by not showing the guts to stand up for us.

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  • ’The Government can avert this action by re-entering talks with the BMA'
    I do not believe that BMA said this.

    You- the BMA do not want to speak to or come near this character- Mr Hunt. Mr Hunt is not fit for his office, and He should go with the decision he made. If Mr Hunt makes a u turn on his decision - he should be sacked with tail between his legs for his incompetence and failure.

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  • "In recent weeks I have heard from thousands of junior doctors across the country, and the resounding message is that they cannot and will not accept what the Government is trying to do."

    Well said and delivered Dr Malawana and the junior doctors that you have engaged with since the enforcement plans of Mr Hunt. Continuing strike action with emergency care and not accepting enforcement whatever the consequences. It is NOT SAFE OR FAIR.

    Many of us have children that are medical students or Junior Doctors and I want them to have a better deal than the ridiculous hours we went through especially in the climate of faster paced care and denigration by the media and a minority of the public.

    We have accepted far too much work and expectation as a profession. As a result it has come to this breaking point. Enough is enough. NO MORE.

    Whether the public support you or not we all know the "free at the point of use NHS" is coming to an end and is not sustainable at such a value for money cost at the detriment of the workers health.

    Good luck JDs. We as GPs are here to support you as a profession and ALSO AS YOUR GPs we are here to support your physical and mental health in whichever way is needed FOR YOU

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  • Surely David Dalton as a CEO had a vested interest in getting the best deal for trusts, which may explain why so many other CEO's distanced themselves after the imposition. What needs to be publically declared is how much the NHS costs to run when everything is "free". There needs to be public consultation on what is affordable and what is not. I had to send an anxious father away without Meningitis B because his child was born two months before the campaign started. At £75 an injection he will struggle to afford it privately so I advised him to challenge his MP on the decisions of his government.

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  • i don't think the public gives a **** - we are merely service providers and they are paying (tax) customers.

    the government will stand firm as if the NHS goes under it will be one less financial drain for the state.

    i don't see a way out but in saying that i think the juniors are doing the right thing and wish them the best of luck.

    what will happen is if there is one fatal event as a consequence we will all be demonized. i really think the government will hope that support wears out and the protest runs out of steam. they will do the bare minimum to keep GP partners and NHS consultants on board and wheel out their medical supporters to say how bad the rest of us are. I expect them to go after junior doctors, locums and the rest of the NHS staff. I think the plan is to cut T&Cs across the board to prop up the NHS for a few years and make things so bad that we beg for privatization to improve our T&Cs. The best bit is the public will still vote conservative.

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  • I can't see how the proposed change in contract passes the Relevance Test for an Equality Impact Assesment. I think you could argue the opposite - the BMAs proposals discriminated against doctors who could not secure better pay by working overnight or at weekends for religious or other equality reasons.
    Interesting to see what happens next.

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  • Mr Mephisto

    Bring it on!

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  • Vinci Ho

    Continuous bombardment and push Agent Hunt to the corner: he has to be fall guy for all these, especially when his mate PM is really busy with EU referendum mutiny..,

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  • I also cannot see why they could not have had an all out strike and included emergency services. You know there is a private health care system which people would have had to divert to!
    Paying for their own health care would have woken many up to the real cost of health care. It would also make those want to fight to keep the NHS.
    I dont think these strikes will achieve much as they are toothless and nothing much will change. The government will not change and they are doing there very best to aggravate doctors and make things as unfair as possible for doctors.

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  • don't worry juniors - lot's of options

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/worldnews/australiaandthepacific/newzealand/12169905/190000-per-year-job-with-three-months-holiday-is-on-offer-in-New-Zealand-but-nobody-wants-it.html

    only decent story seen in telegraph lately.

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  • As Above - another story of interest in independent

    http://www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/jeremy-hunt-privatise-nhs-tories-privatising-private-insurance-market-replacement-direct-democracy-a6865306.html

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  • Quite frankly the BMA is to blame for this mess just as much as the government. They have bottled out from a full on strike time after time and have just exposed their weakness to the politicians. JH is laughing at the JDs thanks to the BMA.

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  • Put yourself in the Govt shoes. Would you not want the best care for the lowest outlay ?
    So, it is up to us doctors to say 'this is OK' or walk away.
    The dentists did.

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  • Mr Hunt will dig in and hope exhaustion and worried juniors about their careers and future will means the juniors will give in.

    Mass resignation and formation of a co-operative where the juniors offer their services back to Mr Hunt's NHS on their own terms looks fair and innovative. This is the only way to fight this dictatorial CEO of a monopoly service.

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  • The public reads:
    1."11,000 excess deaths at weekends".
    2.BMA paying fancy lawyers to argue how many angels dance on the head of a pin/"equality impact"..whatever that is.
    Sun readers do not give a stuff about "equality impacts".They want their Gran sorted on Sunday.
    Junior doctors: lions lead by donkeys.

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  • This news regarding a judicial review actually made my day. Go on guys and gals, show the way to our sleazy leaders in LMCs how to deal with JH and gang.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Read the leading article on BBC News Health this morning
    Junior doctors' row: Hunt's 6,000 deaths claim 'was unverified'
    By Sarah Bloch

    Nigel, are you going to publish anything on this?

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  • 'sleazy leaders in LMCs'

    Ask to attend your LMC meeting or go on local website to see what they are doing for you locally. If you are speaking from a position of knowledge, I apologise, if not make it part of your PDP

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  • As the pound falters and public services get slashed, expect support for this to evaporate.

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  • BBC Today programme this am: 6000 deaths now 11,000 after peer review.

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  • Hunt misrepresented data on 7-day NHS
    BBC WEBSITE 24.2.2016

    BMA should refuse to engage with Mr Hunt for the reason of his dishonesty and on what is his personal agenda and should be sacked. How can this man stay in office! You would be struck off on any dishonesty/manipulation on research material.

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  • im sorry im loosing track of this one. what is so bad with the contract they have been offered?

    ok its imposed and thats bad - but is it that bad?

    i agree the data that weekend deaths is higher is crap - the bbc had a programme that dispelled that. but this sounds good. increase in basic pay. less nights in a row, less hours in a week? i would have liked this when i was a junior doing a 1 in 3 with prospective cover almost killed me. then another job with 7 12 hour nights in a row - straight in from a week of days inc on call onto a week of days with not a day off was also horrendous.

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  • As is evident from today's PMQ, Hunt is carrying out direct orders of Cameron.Radical decisions need to be made by the profession as Hunt is not alone and he knows that.

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  • Partner 6:49pm

    Your missing the main point. Their loosing their banding so even with the 13% pay life their taking an overall pay cut!

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  • @medical student 8:45 - thanks but thats partly my point. on TV there are a lot of JDs going on about pt safety - the reality is the JDs will work less strenuous hours on this contract (and perhaps get less experience) - yes they may (and I'm not sure based on the figures) get less pay. but thats a different message - please sir we don't want to earn less... welcome to the last 10 years of general practice - and it might not play as well with the public. The BMa is confusing issues here. Hunt is a clever sod - who wants to do odd things to the NHS - yes we shouldn't trust him but thats not what they are arguing and by arguing something that can be disproven they run the risk of loosing credibility.

    don't get me wrong - the 7day idea is rubbish - I'm not even convinced its a vote winner so i don't get their obsession with it. they will be having a go at consultants next - some of whom still make a pretty penny in waiting list initiates and private practice - so wont get the publics vote quite as easily as JDs. they are trying to turn GPs salaried - the whole system is a mess - waiting lists are going up - the system is broke. workforce planning is years out of date. its just insane but the JDs need to be careful they know what they are striking for and aren't being used as a political football.

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