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Independents' Day

Hunt announces junior doctor contract imposition

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has announced that he will impose the new junior doctor contract, despite a majority of doctors rejecting it.

In a statement to the House of Commons this afternoon, Mr Hunt said the Government does 'now need to proceed with the implementation of the new contract, to end uncertainty'.

Mr Hunt said his door remained open to the BMA to discuss ’both the way the new contract is implemented, extra contractual issues like training and rostering and the contents of future contracts’.

The contract that would be imposed will be the compromise negotiated with the BMA in May rather than the orginal offer made by the Government.

Mr Hunt said: 'I do believe the agreement negotiated in May is better for junior doctors, and better for the NHS than the original contract we planned to introduce in March.

'So rather than try to wind the clock back to the March contract, we will not change any of the new terms agreed with the BMA.'

He also said the contract would be phased in.

He said: 'Last night Professor Dame Sue Baily, president of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said that the NHS and junior doctors needed to move on from this dispute, and that if the government proceeds with the new contract, it should be implemented in a phased way, that allowed time to learn from any teething problems.

'After listening to this advice, and further careful considerations of the equalities impact of the new contract, I have this morning decided that e only realistic way to end this impasse is to proceed with the phased introduction of the exact contract that was negotiated, agreed, and supported by the BMA leadership.'

Addressing why he had made the decision, Mr Hunt said it was also influenced by the political unrest that has followed the UK's vote to leave the EU.

He said: 'Protracted uncertainty at precisely the time we grapple with enormous consequences of leaving the EU can only be damaging to those working in the NHS and on patients who depend on it.'

The BMA announced yesterday that 58% of junior doctors and medical students had voted against accepting the negotiated deal.

But Mr Hunt suggested that since a third of eligible voters had not participated, this meant only 40% of doctors were against it.

He told MPs that the contract will be introduced from October this year for more senior obstetrics trainees, then in November and December for foundation year one doctors taking up new posts, and foundation year two doctors on the same rotas as their current contract expires.

More specialties such as paediatrics, psychiatry, and pathology, as well as surgical trainees will transition in the same way to the new contract between February and April next year, with remaining trainees by October 2017.

Mr Hunt also promised to address concerns of junior doctors including the gender pay gap, by commissioning a report, and looking into the issue of shared parental leave.

Shadow health secretary Diane Abbott said she welcomed these actions, but added that 'at this time of general instability, I would urge the Government to reconsider imposing this contract at all'.

Readers' comments (39)

  • Well - right time to do a decision when all focus is on Mr Tony Blair. Newspapers and broadcasters are quiet on this issue.

    We need a wider debate on survival of the NHS- but we do not care anymore- but does the british public care if its leaders don't.

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  • Bye Bye jeremy.
    Actually that you were a little more intelligent than that.
    Nobody remembers a loser.

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  • 'only 40% of doctors rejected it'. It's disgusting how politicians and the BMA think this is ok. We will regret this in years to come when quite rightly the brightest and best leave our shores as this country has failed them. It won't end here, expect more cuts and misery for the NHS all under the umbrella of 'we now have to deal with Brexit'. I'm already packing my bags.

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  • He isn't going to be health minister much longer ..he cares not

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  • Vinci Ho

    (1) One thing Brexit has 'influenced' is ,the fact that Agent Hunt knew the contract would be rejected way before EU referendum and was prepared to impose , putting the uncertainty factor into the equation . Hence , no matter how 'mental' he could be , he had to succumb to a 'phased turn to work' and any minute of change in politics will have profound twist in the story.
    (2) Agent Hunt is supporting Auntie May as she is leading the race of next PM but I doubted Auntie was even informed that he would impose the contract anyway . Agent Hunt needs to prove he is a 'true agent' to the government especially at time like this. He might think he was still in control but in middle of this political hurricane(people's trust on the ruling government is historically low, not to even mention what Chilcot's inquiry concluded today ), he is only a toy soldier drifted the the huge tidal waves .
    (3) Question for next BMA JDC chair(God bless you Johann, you have honourably and cleverly served history)is what are you signing in papers during this interim period ? Be clear about what you will commit as well as the ever changing reality situation
    This is for all you guys:
    Where must we go, we who wander this wasteland, in search of our better selves.”
    -The First History Man
    Mad Max Fury road

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  • Vinci Ho

    .....'phased return to work'....

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  • Vinci Ho

    ....toy soldier drifted in the huge tidal waves....

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  • I know that I have become increasingly cynical of late, but in my view this is exactly what Government wants and has been Mr Hunt's hidden agenda all along. If the Junior Doctors refuse to work the new contract and the NHS becomes unworkable the Government will claim to have been "forced" to disband it and replace it with a private alternative. Just what they wanted all along, but did not wish to be seen as the one responsible (although they will be) for destroying the NHS. Typically Government will seek to blame someone else - in this case the Junior Doctors.

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  • We need such tough Politicians. Now GPs will stop threatening about mass resignations - because they know that the Health Minister will give a hoot to such threats.

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  • Sad state of affairs for the juniors. There is no BMA leadership to guide them along their agenda.

    To date, There has been no comment from from BMA!

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