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BMA and NHS Employers consider renegotiating junior doctors contract

Trainee GPs could be set for a new contract, as the BMA and NHS Employers publish a ‘heads of term’ document laying out the scope for renegotiation.

The documents sets out the broad requirements a new contract would have to meet, including a negotiation on working hours, more predictable earnings, and a recognition that training and service provision are linked.

Discussions on a new contract could mean changes to the way some junior doctors’ pay is calculated, but the total amount of money available for junior doctors should not change, it said.

It also said that doctors should receive a work schedule detailing how they should spend their time and junior doctors should seek a work review to make an agreement on a work schedule.

Both the BMA and NHS England will now consider the draft heads of term’ during the summer before deciding whether to proceed to a formal renegotiation of the contract in the next few months. This would require a mandate from the Junior Doctors Committee and the four UK health departments.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the BMA GP trainees subcommittee said the ‘heads of term’ was intentionally broad to allow the GPC to gather the opinions of GP trainees in the next few months.

He said: ‘The document is designed to set out the scope of possible negotiations later in the year. At the moment no decisions have been made about what will be included in these talks. The BMA will be consulting its members to get their views on how they feel the junior doctor contract can be improved. ‘

He added that the contract was not intended to attract more GP trainees, simply to update the current contract so it is fit for the future workforce.

He said that the proposal mentioned in a scoping document released by NHS Employers last year, which suggested exploring whether GP trainees could be incorporated with hospital doctors trainees would ‘not be feasible’ as GPs and hospital trainees work in different ways.

The news comes after an analysis published earlier this year found that only a quarter of medical graduates chose general practice as their first choice of specialty.