Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has written a letter to BMA guaranteeing his junior doctor contract proposals will not decrease pay, including that of GP trainees.
According to the Department of Health, the letter was a plea to the BMA Junior Doctors Committee to return to the negotiations, despite Mr Hunt’s earlier threat to impose terms.
It comes after the BMA escalated the contract row two weeks ago by deciding it would ballot junior doctors on industrial action, after the union said that the Government had ’chosen to ride roughshod over the concerns of doctors with their threat of imposition’.
The DH said it had, via the letter, given ‘four cast-iron assurances’: that it was not cost-cutting exercise; it will improve patient safety; it will not impose longer hours for junior doctors; and that the DH ’will ensure that the great majority of junior doctors are at least as well paid as they would be now’.
On GP trainee pay, Mr Hunt repeated the promise he gave to RCGP last month that the GP training supplement would be replaced by another ‘pay premium’ so that GP trainees are not disadvantaged.
He wrote: ’I have already given my assurances that GP trainees will not be disadvantaged compared with the current system.
’I can also say that it is our intention that flexible pay premia would be used to support recruitment into shortage specialties such as accident and emergency medicine and general practice.
’We would also include pay protection for doctors who change to shortage specialities and to support agreed academic work.’
The letter, addressed to JDC chair Dr Johann Malawana, concluded: ’The best deal for junior doctors will be achieved by the BMA coming to the table to negotiate on their behalf and I urge you now to do this.’
It comes after Mr Hunt met Dr Malawana to discuss the contract proposals this week.