Junior doctors have voted to reject a contract deal which the BMA had negotiated with the Department of Health.

In the critical vote, 58 per cent of junior doctor voted against the new contract offered by the government, while 42 per cent voted to accept it. The turnout was 68 per cent. 

British Medical Association junior doctors’ committee chair Johann Malawana, who had backed the deal, has announced his resignation following the result.

It follows three years of discussions over a new contract, around a year of heightened negotiations, and several days of strike action, with the contract row becoming a major point of controversy for the government. The deal was reached in May, but was subject to the ballot of BMA junior doctor members.

The government has been expected to press on with imposing its current proposed contract in the event of a no vote. However, the Department of Health has yet to comment.

Dr Malawana said: ”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.

“Having spoken to many junior doctors across the country in recent weeks it was clear that, while some felt the new contract represented an improved offer, others had reservations about what it would mean for their working lives, their patients and the future delivery of care in the NHS. There was also considerable anger and mistrust towards the government’s handling of this dispute.

“These concerns need to be fully addressed before any new contract can come into effect and, in light of the result, I believe a new chair will be better placed to lead on this work.

“There is much to do to in order to rebuild the trust that has been eroded over the last year. The government must now do the right thing, accept the outcome of this vote and work constructively with the BMA to address junior doctors’ concerns with the new contract.”

NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer said: “I am profoundly disappointed the BMA has rejected the proposed new contract for junior doctors. It is imperative that patients will not be made to suffer any further impact as a result of the rejection of the contract.”

More to follow.