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Implement junior doctor contract or lose funding, hospital bosses warned

Exclusive Training bosses have threatened hospitals thinking of offering an alternative contracts to their junior doctors with a loss of funding for training places.

In a letter to foundation trust chief executives, Health Education England (HEE) chief executive Professor Ian Cumming warned that ‘implementation of the national contract will be a key criterion’ when HEE decides on training post ‘investment’.

The warning comes as several chief executives had distanced themselves from the Government’s decision last week to impose the contract, with commenters suggesting that hospitals should negotiate their own terms with junior doctors and the BMA urging meetings between junior doctors and hospital employers.

But in his letter, Mr Cumming stated: ‘We are not prepared to see a system where a competition based on a local employer’s ability to offer different terms is part of the recruitment process.

‘The recruitment process should be based on patient and service need and quality of training as it always has been. Therefore implementation of the national contract will be a key criterion for HEE in making its decisions on our investment in training posts.’

A HEE spokesperson told Pulse: ’National terms and conditions have served the NHS well in managing the education, training and on-going development of doctors in training.

’It ensures a system based on service and patient need rather than Trusts competing to offer different terms and conditions. We wish that system to continue which is what we said in the letter to chief executives.’

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced last Thursday that he would impose his new contract, after negotiators concluded agreement was unlikely despite months of talks and two days of strike action by junior doctors.

This followed the BMA’s rejection of final offer which included a reduction on the working hours designated plain time during the week and on Saturdays, but would still remove the pay premium for Saturday working.

Do hospitals have to implement the new junior doctor contract?

Currently national training tariffs see HEE paying ’salary support’ for junior doctors training posts, which amounts to 50% of the salary costs with the other half met by the trust.

Professor Cumming’s letter is apparently aimed at staving off deviations from a national contract which would allow foundation trusts to compete over terms to attract candidates. Foundation trusts are the only ones free to negotiate their own terms, while other trusts are bound by the contract.

The BMA has said that it is ‘considering all options’ in response to the imposition, including further strikes.