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#GPnews: Junior doctor contract creates ‘level playing field for men and women’, claims DH

17:20 Pulse editor Nigel Praities is asking that all GPs take part in our latest survey, now up on our website.

You can win a rather large TV…

16:55 The Department of Health has responded to the Guardian’s article (see below) about the contract imposition potentially being illegal, for discriminating against women.

It said: ’Under this contract, for the first time all doctors will get equal pay for equal work, rather than being paid for time served, to create a genuinely level playing field for men and women.

‘What’s more, we have fully considered the Equality Act under the Secretary of State’s duties an the BMA’s own lawyers have advised that there is nothing unlawful in the new contract, which was 90% agreed with them anyway.’

The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) raised concerns that ’women junior doctors will have inferior conditions of work under the new contract’.

16:21 BMA chair Dr Mark Porter has popped down to support the junior doctors staging a permanent strike outside the Department of Health.

13:37 Official statistics on unhealthy weight in England makes for sorry reading, as one in five children in reception year (age 4-5) were measured as obese or overweight in 2014/15.

By year 6 (age 10-11), this had risen to one in three, with children growing up in the most deprived areas twice as likely to be obese as those growing up in the least deprived areas.

Among adults, 26% were obese last year and over half (65% of men and 58% of women) overweight. Morbid obesity had tripled from 1 to 3% since 1993, although the figure was higher in women (4%) than men (2%).

This was reflected in the numbers referred for bariatric surgery, out of which three quarters (76%) were women, the annual publication from the Health and Social Care Information Centre showed. 

Commenting on the ‘extremely worrying’ statistics, the Local Government Association’s community wellbeing spokesperson Cllr Izzi Seccombe called for ‘urgent action’.

She said: ‘Councils have long been calling for action to tackle obesity, such as clearer labelling of sugar content, calorie counts on menus, and sugar reduction in soft drinks. We cannot delay tackling this issue any longer.’

11:49 Child and adolescent mental health services (Camhs) have been criticised for turning away children in care if they move placement too often, writes the BBC.

The Commons Education Committee heard this comes despite almost half of children in care having a diagnosable mental health disorder.

Neil Carmichael MP, chair of the committee, said that following its enquiry it recommends that children in care are given priority to access mental health assessments.

He said: ’Given children in care may have unstable family lives and are frequently moving foster or residential placement, this inflexibility puts vulnerable children in care at serious disadvantage in getting the support they deserve.’

10:42 NHS workers should have access to discountated travel and homes, the Royal College of Nursing has suggested.

As Londoners gear up to elect a new mayor next week, the college said the winner should build homes on NHS land and offer them to low-paid NHS staff, writes the BBC.

A survey carried out by the college, which comes as 17% of nursing posts were vacant in the capital, showed 40% of nurses expect to leave London by 2021 due to unaffordable housing.

Since 2010, nurses’ salaries were up by just 3.5%, compared to a 25% hike in London rents and cost of travel and a 37% rise in house prices.

9:35 A report from the The Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC), seen by the Guardian, has suggested the junior doctor contract imposition may not be legal.

The document said: ’The EHRC is concerned that the UK government’s analysis [of the equality issued raised by the contract] suggests an adverse impact of the contract on groups that disproportionately include women, such as those who take time away from work for maternity leave and caring responsibilities.

’This may indicate that women junior doctors will have inferior conditions of work under the new contract, which would be inconsistent with Article 7 ICESCR, unless it can be justified.’

The DH’s own equality impact assessment had raised concern that women may be disadvantaged by the contract changes,the Guardian points out.