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BMA rejects Hunt’s request to re-enter junior doctor contract negotiations

The BMA has said it wants ‘explicit reassurance’ that its proposals on working hours have a realistic chance of being included in the deal on pay and conditions before re-entering negotiations with the Government.

A letter from the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee (JDC) to health secretary Jeremy Hunt says that there must be contractual safeguards against working an ‘unsafe’ number of hours, and ‘proper recognition’ that they should be paid extra for working all day on Saturdays and late evenings because of the unsocial hours.

It also wants the Government to withdraw its ‘threat to impose a new contract’.

The contract being put forward by the Government would also see the removal of the guaranteed premium for GP trainees that ensures their pay is equal to that of junior doctors, although the Department of Health has claimed it will be replaced with a similar premium.

The JDC’s letter is in reply to the correspondence from Mr Hunt calling on the BMA to re-enter negotiations, in which he gave a ‘cast-iron assurance’ that trainee pay would not decrease as a result of the contract.

In the most recent correspondence, JDC chair Dr Johann Malawana challenged Mr Hunt on his claim, warning that the proposed contract meant that some junior doctors’ pay would fall under the new contract, and that this matter should be clarified.

He wrote: ‘I have spoken to many junior doctors across the country, who are telling me that they are becoming increasingly disillusioned and I believe this may have an impact on the career choices they are making in the UK and globally.

‘Our concern is that this puts in jeopardy your manifesto commitment to deliver a seven-day NHS.’

The Department of Health said in a statement: ‘We have already given key guarantees including protecting the overall paybill, ensuring the great majority of junior doctors are at least as well paid as they would be now, and reducing the number of hours worked.

’We urge the BMA to come back to the table to determine a deal that better supports seven-day services.’

The BMA withdrew from 2016/17 contract negotiations with NHS employers last year and has said that it will ballot members over industrial action, including strikes.