HSJ’s daily digest of the must read stories in health policy

Hunt tries to get BMA round the table (again)

There were further developments on Tuesday (the day before the BMA’s ballot closes) in the ongoing dispute between junior doctors and the government.

HSJ reported that the Department of Health was unable to reveal the scale of the pay cut up to a quarter of junior doctors could face if the pay protection offered by the government was removed.

According to the government, around 75 per cent of doctors will see a pay increase under the offer made to junior doctors earlier this month, with 25 per cent losing money and needing pay protection.

Although ministers have said doctors will see an average basic pay rise of 11 per cent, the DH told us it could not say what the average pay cut would be to those 25 per cent.

Because of the increase in basic pay doctors will have to pay higher pension contributions, which the department said it estimated would see the net take home pay for trainees reduced by £250-£300 a year – although they would benefit from a higher pension after retirement.

The British Medical Association said it believes the contract could reduce pay in the longer term and said any savings should be reinvested back into the paybill.

The ballot on industrial action ends tomorrow and junior doctors are expected to vote overwhelmingly for strike action.

In a separate development, Jeremy Hunt wrote to Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee over “pre-conditions” to negotiations.

The health secretary said there were no conditions to prevent the BMA returning to negotiations and he urged the association to do so.

He wrote that negotiations on changes to the contract had to be based on recommendations made by the independent review body on doctors and dentists remuneration, but stressed this did not amount to non-negotiable conditions.

Cracking the concrete ceiling

“White women may have to deal with the ‘glass ceiling’, BME women have to deal with the ‘concrete ceiling’”, writes Joan Myers.

Ms Myers is a nurse consultant at North East London FT and chair of Chief Nursing Officer’s Black and Minority Ethnic advisory group. She is also on the board of HSJ’s Women Leaders network.

She adds: “Many BME women have to jump through more hoops than anyone else just to prove they can do the job. They may have considerably more qualifications and lengthy experience but the doors are often not even opened to let us in.”

This isn’t only a problem for BME women trying to progress in the NHS, she says, but for the whole health service: “The NHS is facing massive financial and staffing challenges. If it seriously wants to see change, it needs to be courageous and begin to appoint women, including BME women, to more senior roles – and not just as interims, acting or deputy roles.

“There is much talk about inclusive and collective leadership on paper, however not much happens at ground level.”

One of the barriers preventing women for accessing senior roles is a lack of networks – which is where our Women Leaders network comes in.

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