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Junior doctors to be balloted on industrial action

Junior doctors are going to ballot on possible industrial action over the imposition of a contract which they say are unfair to doctors and could endanger patient safety, but the Government has claimed that GP trainees’ pay will not go down. 

The BMA’s junior doctors committee (JDC) took the decision to ballot members at its meeting on Saturday, with more details to be released over the coming weeks.

It comes as the Government categorically stated that the pay of GP trainees will not go down, and that the new supplement for GP registrars will be ‘almost identical to the system that already operates’.

The new chair of the JDC, Johann Malawana, said that the Government had ’chosen to ride roughshod over the concerns of doctors with their threat of imposition’.

He added: ’Today’s decision is a reflection of the anger felt by the thousands of junior doctors who have told us that the Government’s position is not acceptable.’

However, NHS Employers has said that GP trainees’ pay will not be affected by the changes.

In the clearest indication about GP trainee pay yet, NHS Employers said that the current supplement for GP trainees will be replaced by a ‘pay premia’ that would be targeted at shortage specialties as determined by Health Education England.

However, junior doctor leaders warned that the flexibility of the new premium means that there will be scope to reduce GP trainees’ pay depending on circumstances.

The Government last week announced that it would remove the supplement for GP trainees that equalises their pay to that of hospital junior doctors.

As the current contract stands, GP registrars receive a supplement because they work fewer hours and less out-of-hours than hospital trainees, meaning their banding and pay would be much lower without the supplement.

NHS Employers say this is this is effectively a recruitment and retention payment, to ensure that training as a GP is not financially less attractive than training in a hospital specialty.

The GP Survival group warned last week that the removal of the supplement would see GP trainee pay decrease by 31%.

In its response, the Government said it was going to replace the supplement with the pay premia, but both the BMA and the RCGP called for more clarity about what form this will take.

Following questioning by Pulse, an NHS Employers spokesperson said: ‘We have no intention of reducing GP pay. GP registrar earnings will not go down as a result of the proposed new arrangements.

‘The proposed new system would be almost identical to the system that already operates for GP trainees, except that this type of pay supplement - a flexible pay premia – could now also be paid to doctors in other shortage specialties, as well as GPs.

‘What’s more, rather than being determined solely by DDRB and the government, Health Education England would be asked to make recommendations about the supplement using its workforce expertise, so that it would be more sensitive to recruitment and retention issues, not less.’

But Dr Andrew Collier, former co-chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, told Pulse: ‘The concerns that we would have about the shift from the current supplement to flexible pay premia is that the flexible pay premia could be at risk at future funding reviews.

‘Trainees need a degree of certainty when choosing a specialty like general practice, but this is simply not going to be available in the new system.’

Readers' comments (27)

  • Just take this hike in your pension contributions as a once in a lifetime increase - this will secure the pension scheme long term ----- OK if this guarantees our pensions for all doctors.

    Short while later - new Health secretary.

    We are almost doubling your pension contributions - for the added bonus of no extra returns, and we will tax your contributions, and also shrink and tax your pension pot.

    Dont like it - no problem we will impose it!!!!!

    Ha ha stupid unions and doctors!

    Oh yeah, no pay rises either - just expenses - so it isnt a secret tax hike and grab on just doctors that judes, civil servants, MPs etc etc dont have equal punishment.

    Don't trust the changes are going to be held for more than the time it takes to privatise the NHS - then 'Market Forces' will drive pay down for desperate doctors trying to find work, as most will be deskilled to Nurses/PA/HCAs as cheaper labour.

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  • But I take it that other Junior doctors are getting the 30% cut? Not acceptable -there needs to be co-ordinated action by ALL doctors to fight this.

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  • No it won't otherwise they wouldn't be changing it!!

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  • At last the BMA seem to be waking up with the announcement that they will ballot junior docs to see whether they want industrial action. Bring it on, although it is well overdue.
    I don't know why they are limiting strike action to just juniors as they should now extend it to all doctors. Perhaps they think that juniors are more controllable. So BMA please widen your ballot while you still have members left to ballot.

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  • do not trust the govt on this - this is a classic divide and conquer strategy. GP trainees and indeed GPs need to stand in solidarity with our training doctors elsewhere. The govt WILL come for you, if not this year, next year.

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  • It is not only gp trainee but all junior doctors at risk of reduced pain in future.
    "BMA to ballot junior doctors on industrial action"

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  • Presumably to be managed by the same people who decide on the quota of international nurses necessary to stop us falling over.

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  • It's a great pity that all GPs do not have the same courage. Perhaps they would not be in the perilous position that they are in.

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    Please tell me we can unite on this one - the future of the proffession and the NHS. If we can't, forget it. Time to give this bully a bloody nose folks.

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  • It's time to say goodbye la la la la

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