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Hunt orders independent review of trainees’ morale

The health secretary has commissioned an independent review of junior doctor’s morale, training and support, following yesterday’s contract imposition.

Jeremy Hunt said it was ‘paramount’ that we look at issues of junior doctors’ morale, and that Professor Dame Sue Bailey, chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges, will look at relationships between trainees and their employers, and how they’re affected by short placements.

But GP training leaders have said that trainees are predominantly demoralised by Jeremy Hunt’s imposition of the contract that will classify Saturdays as regular working hours. 

It comes as the chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, Dr Johann Malawana, today urged trainees to request urgent meetings with their hospital’s chief executives to discuss the realities of the contract imposition.

The secretary of state says the contract contains significant concessions on the original proposal backed by the Department of Health and NHS Employers but was rejected by the BMA on Tuesday ahead of a second day of strike action.

Mr Hunt said on appointing Professor Bailey: ’It is paramount that we address the deep-seated issues relating to junior doctors’ morale, wellbeing and quality of life.

’Providing a fair, safe contract is one element of that but it is vitally important that doctors get additional support around training and education, working conditions and flexible holiday that enables them to achieve their full potential, and values them for the dedication they give to patients and the NHS.’

The review will look at:

  • Relationships between junior doctors and their employers, and how they’re affected by short placements;
  • Relationships between hospitals and their doctors and their senior medical colleagues, and the impact on their career development;
  • The impact of workload pressures on juniors ability to take up training opportunities;
  • Working environments, facilities and bullying;
  • Flexibility around annual leave and notice periods ahead of future placements.

But GP representatives have said the imposition itself could further worsen recruitment to general practice and that the imposition had left trainees ‘demoralised’.

Dr Krishna Kasaraneni, chair of the GPC’s education, training and workforce subcommittee, told Pulse: ‘There is little doubt that GP trainees will, like other junior doctors, be demoralised by the imposition of this unfair contract.

‘This is bound to have a direct impact on GP trainee numbers. It is time for the government to stop burying its head in the sand and listen to the concerns of tens of thousands of junior doctors who are the backbone of our health service.’

Meanwhile, representatives from action group GP Survival have called for the RCGP to discuss with GP registrars considering resignation how their training attainment could be preserved, or their options for returning.

Dr Zoe Norris told Pulse: ‘GP registrars, like all juniors are prepared to take the next step if needed – whether that’s further strike action or looking at resignations.’

She added: ‘We would like the RCGPs to come out and say that, in the event that juniors did resign from their training they would still recognise that training.’

A petition set up yesterday calling for Mr Hunt to reverse his decision and return to meaningful negotiations has attracted 65,000 signatures, more than half way to the 100,000 required to be considered for a parliamentary debate.