• HEE chief executive Ian Cumming says he is not prepared to see a competitive market between trusts with different junior doctor contracts
  • Adoption of new contract will be key criteria for HEE decisions on training posts with NHS trusts
  • Follows speculation some trusts could choose not to adopt the new contract

Health Education England has moved to force NHS trusts to adopt the new junior doctors’ contract and threatened to withdraw investment in training posts to stop trusts from using their own contracts.

In a letter to trust chief executives sent on Tuesday night, HEE chief executive Ian Cumming said the £5bn education and training body was “not prepared to see” a competitive market between trusts based on different terms and conditions for junior doctors. He said it would make the adoption of the new national contract “a key criterion” in its decisions on training post investment.

Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming

Ian Cumming said ‘a single national approach is essential’

The letter follows speculation that some foundation trusts could choose not to impose the contract on trainee medics. Fifteen chief executives have publicly distanced themselves from the government’s decision to impose a contract after negotiations with the British Medical Association came to an end earlier this month.

Mr Cumming’s intervention followed NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey asking trusts to implement the new contract “consistently” on Tuesday.

While foundation trusts have the legal ability to determine their own terms and conditions for staff, the majority of NHS organisations have not exercised it so far.

HEE is responsible for providing training to junior doctors and gives £3.5bn of funding to NHS trusts that essentially covers half of trainee doctors’ basic salary.

Mr Cumming said: “A single national approach is essential to safeguard the organisation and delivery of postgraduate medical training to ensure all doctors can secure professional development they require to complete their training programmes.

“We are not prepared to see a system where a competition based on a local employer’s ability to offer different terms is part of the recruitment process.

“The recruitment process should be based on patient and service need and quality of training as it has always been. Therefore implementation of the national contract will be a key criterion for HEE in making its decisions on our investment in training posts.”

He also pointed to the controversial nature of the dispute and the varying opinions that had been expressed and added: “I have received far too many reports of material on social media and elsewhere extending beyond fair comment into the realm of abuse.

“I do not believe anyone should have put up with personal abuse because of their views on this matter. We all joined the NHS to do right by patients and their families and it is from that place of common NHS values, that we make our case and that should be respected whether junior or senior.”