Junior doctors will be forced to work under new terms and conditions from August next year, the Department of Health has confirmed to HSJ.

  • NHS Employers to draw up new contract for August 2016
  • BMA committee walked away in October 2014 and voted not to restart talks this year
  • Junior doctors say government plans are unsafe and unfair

The government said it will look to impose the new contract on junior doctors when they rotate to new jobs within the NHS.

It follows a final decision today by members of the British Medical Association’s junior doctors committee not to re-enter contract negotiations with NHS Employers.

A DH spokesman told HSJ: “We are disappointed that the BMA junior doctors committee has let down its members and decided against re-entering negotiations, especially in light of the consultants’ agreement to negotiate. There is independent support for an updated contract that puts patients first, increases basic pay and rewards those who work across all clinical specialities.”

He added: “We will look to introduce a new contract by August 2016 for new junior doctors and new appointees when they move to new positions but remain as junior doctors.

“NHS Employers will continue work to prepare a new contract for August 2016.”

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt warned the BMA he would look to impose a new contract if progress on negotiations had not been made by 11 September. This followed a decision of the BMA to walk away from negotiations with NHS Employers in October last year.

Dr Andrew Collier, co-chair of the BMA junior doctor committee told HSJ: “We urge the government not to impose a contract that is unsafe and unfair. We will resist a contract that is bad for patients, bad for junior doctors and bad for the NHS.”

This followed a report by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration which supported changing junior doctor contracts, but also demanded tougher safeguards be included in any changed contract and better data on the implications of changes.

Under initial proposals from NHS Employers, which could form the basis of a new contract, junior doctors would see an increase in their basic pay but would lose automatic pay progression in favour of a system based on their level of responsibility.

Trainees would be paid on the basis of an hourly rate with more plain time on Saturdays, while those working Sundays or night shifts would receive more. It would also include limits such as a maximum of four consecutive night shifts, five consecutive long days over 10 hours, and a maximum number of average hours.

The junior doctors committee said the proposals were unsafe for patients and unfair to doctors. It highlighted plans to extend routine working hours from 60 hours a week to 90 hours a week and remove the current pay banding system.

Dr Collier added: “The BMA wants to deliver a contract that protects patient safety and is fair to both junior doctors and the health service as a whole. However we can only do this if the UK government and others are prepared to work collaboratively in a genuine negotiation.

“We listened to the vast majority of junior doctors who told us that the DDRB proposals are not acceptable. We remain committed to agreeing a contract that protects against junior doctors routinely working long hours, delivers a fair system of pay, values the vital role of training and does not disadvantage those in flexible working.

“We have not received adequate assurance from the government that they are committed to achieving these goals.”

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “Our challenge now is to press ahead with the essential reform to the junior doctors contract. We will do this in a way which engages directly with junior doctors.”

Paul Wallace, director of employment relations and reward at NHS Employers added: “We remain disappointed not to have reached an agreement with the BMA junior doctors’ committee. The reality is a revised contract will be given to all junior doctors and we will continue to focus on that over a challenging timetable.”