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The waiting game

'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)

  • Looking around social media fora today, it looks like the juniors are already rejecting this contract. Obviously it doesn't help that much of the detail isn't published but at first glance it seems the BMA have agreed they can work a lot harder for much less money. Agreeing flatter pay for antisocial hours is the thin end of a massive wedge and a serious attack on the juniors terms and pay, doctors with families will really struggle. The BMA will have a tought time convincing everyone that this is all over, especially in the context of the GP crisis.

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  • A certain OBGYN has joined the dark side. No surprise there and well done for not doing so earlier. It is now time for our heroic JDs to send a message to this evil and ignorant government.

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  • If the contract is cost neutral to the government but the JD's are providing increased cover then they are working for less . It sounds like a stitch up and this will be more apparent when the detail comes to light. This contract is brown and sticky and it isn't a stick. Or perhaps it is to beat the doctors .

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  • Agree with 1.22 ; just vote NO

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  • We don't get paid per hour currently. I do 1 in 4 weekends, and 7 nights/2 months. For that, I get a basic pay x 1.5. By breaking down pay to an hourly structure, on the new contract I would get (1.1x 'sociable' hours + 1.37x night hours) x 1.1 for working 1 in 2 weekends. I've done a 1 in 3 weekend rota, and on the current system it would earn an 80% banding, which is likely what a 1 in 2 would earn as well. This is an absurd pay cut and will almost certainly be rejected.

    In addition, by having 3x different rates, and criteria such as night shifts starting at 19:30 not qualifying for 1.37x pay, it will be manipulated by HR/staffing, and the complexity will act as an obstacle for anybody challenging their eventual take home pay.

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  • I had been reading with interest that the contract that was about to be imposed on JD's in august would have resulted in a measley hourly wage of around 7 pounds per hour when salaries and hours worked were taken into consideration.

    I wonder what this new improved mega deal will deliver??

    Maybe 7 pounds fifty ( i however doubt the government would be this generous)

    In what kind of socialist gulag is a wage that pays barely above the minimum required by law considered "historic" and generous????""

    The answer is in USSUK, the land formerly known as great britain...........the BMA have sold their junior colleagues down the river and enslaved them into penury for perpetuity!!!!

    A paltry sum after completing some of the most rigorous training and undergraduate exams anywhere.

    These poor wageslave juniors will ,as others have pointed out, be required to work until 70 years and will certainly not be able to enjoy the quality of life and status that their predecessors experienced!!!!

    If you are a JD right now and want a real future and not one of enforced servility on a road to perdition then reject this contract and.....

    Ditch the country comrades!!!!!!!!!!

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  • Took Early Retirement

    If the BMA agreed to it, you can be sure it will be a bucket of faeces for the juniors to eat.

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  • Vinci Ho

    I may be 'naive' (really thought LFC could win the cup last night!!)but my gut feeling is telling me this story has not finished yet . 'Good' to see Agent Hunt was desparate and wasted no time to declare victory and everything the government wanted , the annoying 'win-win' result. He could not help expressing himself in House of Commons. Publishing the equality analysis on the new terms indirectly implied they had ignored that totally in the last round before attempting to impose . BMA was portrayed as the 'obstacle' by the government . Perhaps this obstacle is sorted but the referendum is still pending . In fact , I am intrigued how the name 'referendum' was chosen. The legal team behind BMA is still working on the final outcome ??

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  • Vinci Ho

    Nick Triggle's analysis on BBC Health News was interesting :
    ''The fact that something has been agreed is a major breakthrough, but this dispute is still a long way from being over. The problem the BMA faces is that emotions are running so high.
    The profession has been incredibly united throughout. Some 98% voted in favour of taking strike action last autumn and whenever union leaders have taken soundings since, the overwhelming sense has been that doctors have wanted to fight on. If this hadn't been the case the leadership would probably have agreed a deal long before now.''

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  • Dear All,
    It looks like a lot less than what i'd expect a grassroots junior to be expecting considering the massive and coherent support they enjoyed from not only within the NHS but also the public. The message that Mr Hunt is the liar that he is is now getting through despite the obstacles thrown up by our 21st century media.
    There's a lot of critical detail that has not yet been agreed. Mr Hunt has won a fantastic media coup; the agreement on both sides that agreement has been reached despite the fact that the details have not actually been determined is a win win for him. If now in the discussions about the unresolved details there is an impasse about, for instance, the right for a husband to work close to where his wife and child live, break down, it will be the Juniors / BMA who will be the shameful party.
    Well done Mr Hunt.
    As others have said this is not over.
    I will eat my hat if the juniors vote to accept what appears to be a less than mutual achievement outcome.
    Paul C

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