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BMA to continue with industrial action ballot despite Hunt plea

The BMA has said it will continue with plans to ballot junior doctors – including GP registrars – on taking industrial action on the new contract offer from the Government, despite the health secretary’s claims that only 1% of trainees face a pay cut.

This morning, Mr Hunt claimed just 1% of junior doctors would see a pay decline as he was proposing to raise basic pay by 11%, with two-thirds benefitting and the remainder seeing no impact.

However, the BMA has said ‘the headlines do not match up to reality’, while the offer still fails to deliver safeguards to protect safe working patterns.

GP trainees have also warned that they could face pay reductions as a result of the proposals.

The BMA said that it was only informed of the offer through the media.

Dr Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA junior doctor committee chair, said that the BMA’s concerns have always been about a ‘fair and safe’ contract, and not about pay.

He added: ‘While, in the short-term, existing junior doctors may have their pay protected, protections will only exist for a limited time.

‘Without the reasonable assurances junior doctors require, the BMA has been left with little option but to continue with plans to ballot members on industrial action. This is not a decision we take lightly.

‘However, the Government’s refusal to work with us through genuine negotiations, and its continued threat to impose an unsafe and unfair contract, leaves us with no alternative.’

Meanwhile, GP trainees have warned that the 11% rise in basic pay for junior doctors proposed by the health secretary could lead to a reduction in take-home pay in the longer term, despite the Government’s protestations.

It has emerged that NHS Employers – who negotiate on behalf of the Government – had said that there needed to be a 15% increase in basic pay to make up for the scrapping of supplements.

This includes the GP training supplement, which increases the basic pay of registrars by 45% to bring them in line with secondary care trainees who do more weekend work.

The Government has said it will be replaced by a ‘pay premia’, which will increase the pay of trainees in shortage specialties, including general practice next year.

However, trainees have said they are worried that this new premia could come with caveats, such as agreeing to work in under-doctored areas.

Dr Renée Hoenderkamp, a GP ST3 trainee in London, said the offer was ’all nonsense, smoke and mirrors and designed to divide and rule’.

She told Pulse: ‘We currently get a 45% banding on top of basic pay. Therefore, if this goes and is replaced with an 11% lift in basic pay we are massively disadvantaged.

’Mr Hunt has said he will protect under recruited specialties like GP with his “flexible pay premia” but there is no detail on this and we can most likely assume that to secure this we will need to move to under recruited areas of the country e.g. Hull etc. as London for example is still oversubscribed’

Dr Jane Perry, a trainee in Derbyshire, said: ‘I am in my final year of GP training so technically will have finished my time as a junior doctor when the new contract comes in.

‘However if I was continuing on in my training I would be seeing my pay stay exactly the same due to the loss of incremental pay for each year of completed service It is definitely not a pay rise.’