HSJ’s digest of Thursday’s must know stories and debate

Another round in Hunt vs junior doctors

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt has attempted to make progress in his bitter battle with junior doctors by publishing his letter to the British Medical Association spelling out his assurances and guarantees on plans to bring in new contract terms.

After almost three years of talks and stalled negotiations, Mr Hunt offered few actual concessions beyond offering potential pay protection for some junior doctors who decide to change specialties part way through their training.

Most of the letter reiterated points for negotiation spelled out by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration but is being seen as an attempt by Mr Hunt to put pressure on the BMA junior doctors committee to come back to the negotiating table.

A number of medical royal colleges have responded to the letter, also urging doctors to re-enter talks.

In response, the chair of the junior doctors committee said it was “urgently seeking clarification” on the points raised by Mr Hunt.

The social change network

While the outcome may seem obvious, the HSJ Women Leaders network kicked into action with an inaugural debate on whether “men should be allowed in the network”. The lively exchange was settled by a vote, with most of the members voting in the favour of men not being allowed to participate.

The Leadership Centre’s national director of systems leadership, Debbie Sorkin, speaking against the motion, said there needed to be “a safe, defined space for women to support each other”. The majority agreed with her, while a few others wondered if it might be more inclusive to have men in the network.

Chris Lake, head of professional development at the NHS Leadership Academy and who supported the motion, gave an impassioned speech, saying that “one doesn’t have to be a woman to fight for equality of pay, opportunity and a fair society”. He urged his male colleagues in the health service to join and support the movement.

When Helen Birtwhistle, NHS Confederation’s director of external affairs, said that “in the 21st century no woman – or man for that matter – should be forced to choose between raising children and having a career” there was a thunderous applause.