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'Historic' junior doctor agreement will pave way for seven-day NHS, says Hunt

Jeremy Hunt has told parliament that the new junior doctor agreement would allow the Government to deliver a seven day NHS and increase junior doctor morale after an agreement was reached yesterday between the BMA and the Government.

Calling the agreement ‘historic’, Mr Hunt thanked the BMA for ‘the leadership they have shown in returning to talks, negotiating in good faith and making an agreement possible’.

Mr Hunt said that the contract would ‘allow the Government to deliver a seven-day NHS, improve patient safety, support much-needed productivity improvements’, but also benefit the junior doctors, ‘strengthening the morale and quality of life of junior doctors with a modern contract fit for a modern health service.’

Saying that the ‘disruptive industrial action’ leading up to the agreement was ‘a matter of great regret’, Mr Hunt said to junior doctors: ‘The Government has heard and understood the wider frustrations that you feel about the way you are valued and treated in the NHS.’

He added the Government ‘will continue to engage constructively with you to try to resolve outstanding issues as we proceed on our journey to tackle head on the challenges the NHS faces and make it the safest, highest quality healthcare system anywhere in the world.’

Of the measures in the new contract, he said: ‘Whilst they do not remove every bugbear or frustration they will significantly improve flexibility and work life balance for doctors, leading we hope to improved retention rates, higher morale and better care for patients.’

The contract will be published at the end of this month and BMA members will be balloted on the revised agreement. Mr Hunt said they will publish an equalities analysis of the new terms, something that they failed to do with the previous contract, which led to the BMA initiating a judicial review against them. 

Details of the new contract

The new contract means that doctors who work less than one weekend day a month, receive no additional pay premium, while basic pay increases 10-11%. Mr Hunt said that the new contract also had several points to ‘improve the wellbeing of our critical junior doctor workforce’ by:

  • ‘reducing the maximum hours a doctor can be asked to work in any one week from 91 to 72
  • reducing the number of nights a doctor can be asked to work consecutively to 4 and reducing the number of long days a doctor can be asked to work to 5
  • introducing a new post, a Guardian of Safe Working, in every trust to guard against doctors being asked to work excessive hours
  • introducing a new catch up programme for doctors who take maternity leave or time off for other caring responsibilities
  • establishing a review by Health Education England to consider how best to allow couples to apply to train in the same area and to offer training placements for those with caring responsibilities close to their home
  • by giving pay protection to doctors who switch specialties because of caring responsibilities
  • establishing a review to inform a new requirement on trusts to consider caring and other family responsibilities when designing rotas.’

Readers' comments (23)

  • Ivan Benett

    This is excellent news, perhaps we can get on now and do the right thing, which is to provide a 21st Century, consistent NHService for patients, seven days a week. We're all complaining about lack of cap-acity, but being open seven instead of five days a week will increase capacity by 40%.
    Of course that wont happen over night and without investment in staff and infrastructure, but at least we can plan for it.
    Before the barage of abuse from anonymous comments and Vinci Ho,maybe I am naieve and an idealist - but hey so were the early advocate of the NHS.
    I'll just put my cardigan on, it's getting a bit chilly

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  • 'Of course that wont happen over night and without investment in staff and infrastructure, but at least we can plan for it. '

    that's the point - there is no money

    Ivan - no one is against 7 day routine service BUT

    Ask yourself the following;

    1. is the current service adequately staffed?
    2. is the current NHS service sufficiently funded?
    3. does the state have staffing and costing plans for the 7 day service as discussed in the PAC http://www.parliament.uk/business/committees/committees-a-z/commons-select/public-accounts-committee/news-parliament-2015/nhs-staff-numbers-report-published-15-16/

    I don't expect you to answer as you don't answer anonymous queries but common sense would lead you to realize that if you can't staff and fund current services then there is no chance of funding or staffing a more extensive service.

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  • Ivan
    I have asked you several times but have never received a reply. I never post anonymously. Do you agree that without adequate investment, including a sufficient number of GPs , a 7 day service won't happen?

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  • I was speaking to a policeman last night. I was surprised to find he got no enhanced pay for Saturday or Sunday . I was also surprised to hear that all of his overtime was paid at time and a half. The juniors would be mad to accept this deal.

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  • I hope I've misunderstood the flavour of what has been agreed. Perhaps it's premature to draw conclusions without knowing details.

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  • Why are our rights to weekends being eroded?

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  • i might be thick here but if you are not increasing staffing numbers and you are not increasing funding BUT you intend to increase availability by 40% then how can you do that without either increasing staff hours at same pay or reducing number of staff per shift who will have to cope with greater demand as there are less staff to help out? so either hours go up or pay goes down or demand (which is risk and poor care) goes up? i fail to see how this is a better service???

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  • Ivan said himself that he was a naive idealist . Why was that comment removed . Perhaps you should remove Ivans post as well .

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