• The government is minded to impose the contract it agreed with junior doctors leaders, but which has been rejected by members
  • It will formally announce its next steps in the coming days

The government is expected to press on with imposition of the junior doctors contract which it had agreed with British Medical Association negotiators, after the deal was rejected by junior doctors balloted by the union.

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt today said he was considering the outcome of the ballot, in which 58 per cent of those who took part voted against the contract, on a 68 per cent turnout.

HSJ understands the government is currently minded to go ahead and impose the contract terms agreed with the junior doctors committee in May before being put to a vote of the BMA’s junior doctor members. Mr Hunt will set out his final decision in coming days.

Mr Hunt said in a statement: ”It is extremely disappointing that junior doctors have voted against this contract, which was agreed with and endorsed by the leader of the BMA junior doctors’ committee and supported by senior NHS leaders.”

The Department of Health indicated it did not consider the vote an overwhelming rejection. Mr Hunt’s statement said: “The BMA’s figures show that only 40 per cent of those eligible actually voted against this contract, and a third of BMA members didn’t vote at all. We will now consider the outcome.”

Meanwhile, the BMA junior doctors committee is due to meet tomorrow. Its chair, Johann Malawana, who had supported the deal it put to members, resigned today. A critical question for the NHS is whether the JDC decides to take further industrial action.

Dr Malawana said in a statement following the vote: ”The result of the vote is clear, and the government must respect the informed decision junior doctors have made. Any new contract will affect a generation of doctors working for the NHS in England, so it is vital that it has the confidence of the profession.

“Given the result, both sides must look again at the proposals and there should be no transition to a new contract until further talks take place.”