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Health secretary to impose new contract on junior doctors

The health secretary has announced that he is going ahead with the imposition of the junior doctors’ contract after negotiations with the BMA had broken down.

In a statement to the House of Commons today, Jeremy Hunt said he has ’decided to proceed’ with the imposition following instruction from the chief negotiator.

As part of the new contract, he said no junior doctor will work consecutive weekends and there will be a 13.5% increase in basic pay, but said that Saturday working will not be recompensed at the current rate.

It comes after the Government refused to cede to the BMA’s demands that junior doctors should be paid premium rates for Saturday working.

Other elements of the new contract include:

  • 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, who will have the authority to impose fines for breaches to agreed working hours, which will be invested in educational resources and facilities for trainees.

He added: ’It does represent a reduction compared to current rates, necessary to ensure hospitals can afford additional weekend rostering. So because we do not want take home pay to go down for junior doctors, after updated modelling I can tell the House these changes will allow an increase in basic salary of not 11% as previously thought but 13.5%.

’Three-quarters of doctors will see a take home pay rise and no trainee working within contracted hours will have their pay cut.’

Shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander said the whole dispute ’could have been handled differently’, and criticised Mr Hunt’s ‘decision to make this a fight over the concept of seven-day working’.

During yesterday’s strike, Sir David Dalton - the chief executive of Salford Foundation Trust, who was drafted in by the Government to broker a deal - wrote to Mr Hunt to say that a ’negotiated outcome… no longer seems possible’.

He called on Mr Hunt to do ’whatever it deems necessary to end uncertainty for the service, and make sure that a new contract is in place which is as close as possible to the final position put forward to the BMA yesterday’.

Under the ‘final offer’, junior doctors would receive premium pay for Saturday working if they worked one weekend in four, which Sir David said would cover the ‘majority’ of junior doctors working on a Saturday.

However, the BMA reiterrated its position that all junior doctors working on a Saturday should be paid a premium, and referred to its original cost neutral plan that would see basic pay reduced to pay for Saturday working.

RCGP chair Dr Maureen Baker said: ’We are shocked and dismayed at the Government’s decision to impose a contract on our dedicated and committed junior doctors. Imposing a deal on junior doctors is wrong-headed, will inevitably damage morale across the NHS – and may damage patient care.’

Readers' comments (111)

  • Keep striking!

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  • in support of colleagues - I've put up a website/directory with a list of career links. No need to despair you have lot's of options.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Well, let's get ugly if that is what you want:
    There will always be those who mean to do us harm
    To stop them , we risk awakening the same evil within ourselves
    Kirk Star Trek into Darkness 2013

    This is no longer middle ground politics anymore as Cameron portrayed as the reason they won the general election last year.
    What goes around , what comes around .
    The one who pressed the nuclear button will bear the consequences , no doubt. God 'helps' your party.

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  • Vinci Ho

    Send in your comments, folks
    We need a record breaking number of comments on this box

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  • Just remind me, how many of our public SERVANTS i.e. members of parliament work weekends?
    How many of them got an 11% rise - for ... no added work, or additional quality of service provided to the population?
    How many of them are actually in parliament at all for relevant discussions, obviously I mean relevant to the ELECTORATE not their own self serving desires?

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  • First Minister announces Junior Doctor contract will NOT be imposed in Scotland. Thanks, Mr Hunt, you've been a great help to our recruitment drive here.

    Seriously, is he deliberately trying to precipitate a catastrophic exodus? Does he have an army of private companies waiting in the wings to "Bail out" the collapsing service when all the doctors go to Australia? Will we all have to pay for them? Do his friends own these companies (if they exist)? I'll just leave this wild speculation here.

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  • Unbelievable! There seems to be a militant approach to all healthcare professionals at the moment - read about the pharmacy funding cuts and the campaign there. Which profession is next??

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  • fully support the hard-working and dedicated junior doctors on this.
    Don't think for 1 minute that the next in line will be the GP contract, consultants and nurses - all will have contracts imposed if negotiations fail.
    Junior doctors will have to make some really tough choices soon - sign a new imposed contract or not. It is really really sad that it has come to this. This will not help morale through out the NHS.
    May be other parts of NHS will stand with the Juniors?
    Good luck to all Junior Doctors and thank you all for your hard work looking after patients.

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  • Reality is that we now live in a 24/7 society. Even Sundays are no longer 'special', let alone Saturdays. Most importantly we've chosen to be healthcare professionals, and we know people can not choose not to be ill over the weekends. If we wanted Mon-Fri lifestyle we should have chosen appropriate profession e.g. Law.

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