• Negotiations on 2016 contract will conclude later this month
  • Referendum on whether to accept it will be held in June
  • BMA maintains it remains in dispute over contract

Junior doctors will vote next month on whether to accept the newest version of the controversial 2016 contract that led to unprecedented strike action.

In an update to junior doctor members, the BMA said the ongoing negotiations to the terms and conditions will conclude in late May. Members will be updated after this. 

A referendum will be held in June on whether members accept the new version of the contract, the union said.

During the 2016 junior doctors’ dispute, it was agreed via the Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service that the BMA and NHS Employers would commission a review of the contract’s efficacy and to identify any areas for improvement to the contract terms. This agreement was reached before the contract was imposed in 2016.

When the BMA failed to accept any negotiated contract, the government pressed ahead with the contract and kept the commitment for a review in 2018.

The contract dispute led to the first strike action by junior doctors in 40 years. The four separate strikes caused tens of thousands of outpatient appointments and elective operations to be cancelled.

As a positive first outcome from the contract negotiations, the BMA announced earlier this year junior doctors taking shared parental leave will have their pay enhanced above the statutory rate.

In a message to doctors the BMA’s junior doctors committee, chair Jeeves Wijesuriya said: “We remain in dispute over the contract, which is not collectively agreed: collective agreement means employers and trade unions have jointly agreed a contract so that any further changes to it must be made with both parties’ agreement.

“In August 2018 we commenced a joint review of the impact of the contract in practice and to amend the areas that are not working. We are now in a negotiation stage, trying to seek improvements based on what junior doctors have told us was important to them in a survey we held and via our regional engagement.

”If we are able to reach agreement on a final package of changes, we will present this to our membership in referendum for approval. If members vote yes, the improvements will be formalised in a new version of the contract which will then be collectively agreed and our dispute ended.”