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BMA to hold vote on junior doctor contract changes

The BMA will ask junior doctors to vote on proposed improvements to the junior contract in England this week.

The proposals, agreed by NHS Employers, the Department of Health and Social Care and the BMA, will mean a guaranteed annual 2% pay increase for the next four years and safer limits to working hours if junior doctors vote in favour of the proposals.

The referendum will be held from 14 – 25 June and is open to all BMA junior doctor members, medical student members in their final or penultimate year of medical school and junior doctor members from the devolved nations who will be working in England from August.

The deal amounts to £90m worth of investment over a four-year period, from April 2019 to March 2023, and also includes:

  • An improvement in rest period entitlements
  • An increase to weekend pay rates
  • Enhanced rate of pay for doctors working shifts finishing after midnight and by 4AM
  • A recognition of training requirements in rostering
  • New and increased employer penalties when trainees work beyond the safe limits

The BMA has said if the proposals are rejected by junior doctors, then trainees will continue to work under the current contract terms from 2016, continuing the dispute over those terms.

BMA junior doctors committee chair Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya said the committee has been negotiating for three years for fair changes to the contract.

He added: ‘The BMA has scored major victories for junior doctors by securing enhanced shared parental leave for trainees and extra funding for rest and fatigue facilities around the country, following worrying complaints about over-worked doctors sleeping on floors or being unable to recuperate during night shifts.

‘The proposed deal contains other significant enhancements to further improve the pay, conditions and training opportunities for junior doctors across the NHS and are a result of a new collaborative, constructive negotiation process that has learned from the mistakes of the past.

‘There is of course a great deal more that needs to be done and junior doctors will remain at the forefront of campaigns for a better funded, well-staffed and publicly run health service. We believe these proposals are a major step in the right direction for our workforce and our NHS, and we have endorsed these improvements to our members in the upcoming referendum.’

He added: ‘If agreed we will be working with NHS Employers and the Department of Health and Social Care for these changes to be implemented in England as soon as possible. If rejected at referendum trainees would remain on the current imposed 2016 terms and conditions and remain in dispute.’

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: ‘We welcome the additional investment from the government and NHS England.  The agreements reached show the seriousness of all sides to review and improve the contract, to build a safe and constructive way forward for this important part of our workforce.’