The British Medical Association and NHS Employers have stepped up their bid to get a better deal for trainee doctors and dentists by publishing draft heads of terms.
The terms will be reviewed by both parties during the summer before a decision is made on whether to formally renegotiate the contract, which would need a mandate from the BMA junior doctors committee and the health departments.
The BMA and the NHS Employers organisation, including representatives from the devolved nations, have held exploratory talks to address fears that the 13-year-old contract is outdated and no longer suitable for NHS employers, doctors and dentists in training and patients.
At the end of last year, NHS Employers declared its intention to change the contract to ensure trainees feel valued and engaged, while supporting care for patients and safety for those in training. It also wants a deal that is cost effective and flexible to changes in the training and working practices of trainees, and one which makes sure there is a good relationship between trainees and their employers.
The BMA is determined to improve working hours, quality of life, the fairness and stability of pay and training.
BMA junior doctors committee chair Ben Molyneux said: “Since the current contract was drawn up we have seen radical changes to the way doctors in training work. We believe there is scope for producing a contract that works better for both junior doctors and their employers.”
NHS Employers chief executive Dean Royles hailed an important step towards modernising the contract for junior doctors.
“We are hopeful that we can negotiate a new contract which will be better for doctors, employers and crucially our patients,” he said.
“These discussions in partnership with the BMA have been extremely useful and we very much hope to achieve a mandate for formal negotiations.”