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Junior doctors considering legal action and full walkouts in contract row

The BMA has said further industrial action is ‘inevitable’, and it is currently looking at the legality of the Government’s decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors.

In an email to junior doctors on Saturday, the BMA’s junior doctor committee chair Dr Johann Malawana confirmed that they were exploring ‘every available avenue’ of legal action to overturn the decision to unilaterally impose a contract.

He added that the JDC would ‘consider escalating any action’ to end the imposition, which could see the first total withdrawal of junior doctor labour, including staff involved in emergency care.

Dr Malawana explains further action would be subject to the BMA’s internal legal processes, with further details due shortly.

A full walkout including emergency staff was part of the ballot of junior doctors in November last year, and 98% of voters - 76% of the total 36,000 junior doctors – voted in favour.

The strikes were deferred until this year after conciliatory talks between the BMA and NHS Employers made headway.

But 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.

Since health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced on 11 February that he would impose a contract the JDC has been canvassing opinion and considering its options.

Following a meeting of the committee on Saturday, Dr Malawana wrote: ‘JDC has made the clear decision that further industrial action is inevitable and that we will consider escalating any action to achieve our aim to end the imposition.

‘The exact nature of further action will need to go through the legal processes we have internally within the BMA and we will be making an announcement on that action with the notices to the NHS as has happened previously in very short order.

‘In addition the BMA is exploring every available avenue of legal action to prevent imposition, and you will be hearing from us in due course as action on this front begins.’

It also highlights that the BMA will run a review of workforce morale, across all professions, and a public facing campaign to ensure that patients understand the dispute and the concerns that have led junior doctors to industrial action.

Pulse approached the Department of Health for comment but had not received a response at time of publication.

What is the dispute about?

junior doctors3

junior doctors3

The dispute arose over an overhaul of junior doctors contract which is seeking to force hospitals to rota more doctors at weekends by removing unsociable hours payments for junior doctors.

The final contract which Jeremy Hunt is set to impose has seen several concessions introduced during negotiations, but will still redefine weekdays from 7am to 9pm, and Saturdays from 7am to 5pm as ‘sociable hours’ which would not attract pay premium.

The change would be balanced by an increase in basic pay of 13.5% and caps on the number of consecutive nights and long-shifts junior doctors can be asked to work.

The BMA says the move would lead to junior doctors working unsafe hours that could harm them and patients. The Government has disputed these claims, as well as a suggestion that changes could lead to a pay cut of as much as one third

Read more: The strike is our only option left

Readers' comments (29)

  • Yeah baby !

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  • About time they seem to be waking up. A pay rise too would be good. Even a pay rise which keeps pace with inflation.....

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  • Looking forward to this fight with -the Darth Varder-Mr Hunt. May the force b with u.

    we r One profession - The GPs are behind our juniors - the BMA must use spin and PR and stay one step ahead of Mr Hunt. Mr Hunt has a background of spin/pr and public funds to use for his benefit. The public must be kept behind the doctors to overcome this evil.

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  • Have you seen what's on Hunts twitter page 'new investment for general practice....efficient service EVERY DAY OF THE WEEK'

    Its us next chaps.


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  • You want to hit them hard? Resign and go locum, if possible. I say 'if possible' as many of our colleagues will have family, mortgage and other issues which prevent such a radical move.
    However, even if 30 to 40 % can move out of the system for a few months, it will cause major disruption to JHs plans and sabotage his attempt to fool the British public into believing that he is the Saviour. Legal action against the lawmakers doesn't always work although we have instances where BMA and the Gurkhas have been able to fight discrimination. It can be a long and protracted battle for an exhausted junior doctor community.

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  • The General Public will ultimately back Hunt, because that is how the Tories got to power...they promoted the ethos of self-interest over utilitarianism.
    When it comes to the crunch, nobody really gives a **** about us doctors. Some a partial ****-ok. And I accept that.
    The problem is that this ultimately leads to a withdrawal of "goodwill":

    why donate your life to people who don't give a **** about the big philosophical question to answer. I still do the job but attitudes are changing.

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  • The General Public will ultimately back Hunt, because that is how the Tories got to power...they promoted the ethos of self-interest over utilitarianism.

    That's why he's pushing for 7-day access. Want a free meal? Yes
    Want a free meal on Saturday or Sunday?- yes.
    You hungry- No!
    It's for the voters.
    If you ask the people who use our services the most they do not give **** if you are open Sundays. They just want to see you. My Saturday surgery is full of people who couldn't get to see me in the week. Start making me work sundays and that will only get worse. (Although I won't mind working weekends as my wife will have left me and I'll need the money to run 2 households)

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  • 5:05 I don't just want a free meal on saturdays and sundays, I want your dinner too. JH

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  • I strongly recommend the 'full walkout' option, it is what I did last July at the age of 49yrs after 22yrs of full time GP and I won't be back. Not as much money but great for everything else, I hardly drink, get up early and do what I want then spend some time setting up and sorting out a non-medical internet business. The NHS is doomed.

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  • 529pm You can have it it's likely to be pot noodle infront of results etc....

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