Junior doctor England Contract

Last updated:

Junior doctor forums

Read the latest guidance on the junior doctor contract 2016

The new terms and conditions for the 2016 junior doctor contract includes a requirement for junior doctor forums to be set up.

Principally these forums will advise the guardian of safe working, a new role in every employer who will oversee the processes in the new contract designed to protect junior doctors from being overworked.

The forums are not an optional add-on but a non-negotiable contractual requirement, and all trainees in England must be able to access and participate in a forum.

Key information

  • What are junior doctors forums?

    The function and remit of junior doctors forums as defined in the 2016 TCS of the new junior doctors contract are:

    • Each Guardian and Director of Medical Education shall jointly establish a Junior Doctors Forum (or fora) to advise them.

    • This shall include junior doctor colleagues from the organisation and must include the relevant junior doctor representatives from the LNC (or equivalent) as well as the Chair of the LNC. Doctors on the fora will be elected from among the trainees.

    • Where the guardian for safe working covers specialties that are small or have specific employment requirements, the fora shall include representatives of these groups. The group shall also include relevant educational and HR colleagues as agreed with the group.

    • The junior doctors forum or a sub-group it establishes will take part in the scrutiny of the distribution of income drawn from fines.
  • Responsibilities

    Overseeing distribution of guardian fine monies

    The money raised through fines levied by the guardian must be used to benefit the education, training and working environment of trainees.

    The guardian of safe working hours should devise the allocation of funds in collaboration with the employer/host organisation junior doctors’ forum, or equivalent.

    These funds must not be used to supplement the facilities, study leave, IT provision and other resources that are defined by HEE as fundamental requirements for doctors in training and which should be provided by the employer/host organisation as standard.

    Performance management of the guardian

    There will be a system of performance management which will include the opportunity for representatives of the doctors in training to contribute to the assessment, for example, through a system of 360° appraisal.

    Where there are concerns regarding the performance of the guardian, the BMA or other recognised trade union, or the Junior Doctors Forum should raise those concerns with the Trust Medical Director or the relevant director with responsibility for managing the guardian.

    These concerns can be escalated to the senior independent director on the Board of Directors where they are not properly addressed or resolved.

  • Best practice regarding forums

    The operation of the forums does not need to be limited to the precise remit set out in the contract.

    Like the guardian of safe working hours, the principle behind junior doctor forums is not necessarily linked to any contract, and these forums can provide a useful method of engagement and platform for voicing concerns for all junior doctors, including those still working under the 2002 TCS.

    Getting involved with developing a junior doctors forum at your trust does not mean you are helping to facilitate the new contract.

    These forums are a potentially beneficial opportunity for junior doctors to come together locally and work together to ensure their colleagues’ views and concerns are represented to management, and to share knowledge and ideas about how to improve their working lives.

    There is already a network of BMA RJDC (regional junior doctors committees), which these forums will not replace – they will be smaller and more localised, based at a single employer rather than covering a whole region.

  • Key principles of the forums

    With support from the BMA, these new forums can be developed to complement and support existing BMA-led representative structures locally.

    We've provided a number of key guiding principles for the development of these forums as a starting point. We believe that they can provide an opportunity for innovation and leadership among grassroots junior doctors, who should be able to build their forum into a group that works best for them and their colleagues.

    Download our draft constitution for setting up a junior doctors forum

    • Junior doctors forums (JDF) will generally be employer/trust based, with one per guardian of safe working. If you work for a smaller or non-hospital employer who do not provide their own guardian, you should be able to get involved with the JDF for the guardian who oversees your working hours.
    • The forums are a non-negotiable contractual requirement under the 2016 terms and conditions and all trainees in England must have access to one. Employers must make all necessary arrangements on their part to facilitate these forums, including allowing the members to arrange sufficient time off to attend and complete the work of the forums.
    • The forum must include the LNC (local negotiating committee) chair and the relevant junior doctor reps to the LNC. All other members should be elected by their peers from across the population the guardian represents. Some trusts may have appointed the local LNC chair as their guardian of safe working – this is not necessarily a problem as long as any potential conflicts of interest are addressed, so where this is the case the LNC should appoint another member, for example the LNC vice-chair,to attend the JDF on behalf of the LNC.
    • The forum should also benefit from the attendance of a BMA IRO (industrial relations officer) as a non-voting member, to provide practical support for implementing the forum’s decisions and engaging with trust management.
    • The forums should be representative, with a designated member to represent various sub groups within the junior doctor population covered by the forum, including but not limited to less than full time trainees, academic trainees, public health trainees, GP trainees, dental trainees, medical students, if relevant.
    • The forum may also want to designate roles to various members to ensure representation of all the issues it needs to cover, for example to ensure equal resources are dedicated to both working hours and educational issues, reflecting the joint working of the guardian (overseeing working hours) and the director of medical education (overseeing training issues).
    • The forum may want to set up a separate sub-group for certain specific tasks, such as scrutinising the allocation of guardian fine monies, to report back to the wider group. The group should be flexible and decide how to divide up their focus according to the issues that arise in their trust, making use of new data being collected through the guardian role, such as rota gaps.
    • It is important to remember that the forum should represent all junior doctors, not just those working under the new contract. There will be key issues of particular importance to those remaining on the 2002 terms and conditions, for example ensuring that monitoring continues properly for those not benefiting from the new exception reporting system, and the forum should ensure these issues get sufficient focus.
    • The forum should have the opportunity for re-election each year. It should be an inclusive forum, with other junior doctors working at the trust able to visit forum meetings and contribute – although members may want to establish a voting system to ensure final decisions are made by those who were elected democratically to be part of the forum, if they feel this is necessary.
    • Medical students are the junior doctors of the future and, where relevant, students attending placements and training at the trust may want to get involved with the forum – this could be available to all medical students, or final and penultimate year students who may be most interested.
    • The regional JDC for the area the trust is in and the LNC are already in place to provide guidance and leadership on issues relating to trade union representation on employment rights and also negotiation on local contractual issues. However these newly-established forums should keep an open mind about what projects they may like to pursue, based on the range of other issues affecting junior doctors in their particular trust/organisation. Forums can, where relevant, work with other already established local representative bodies, including for any training required on the terms of the contract and the operation of existing local bodies and structures and sharing best practice.
    • Some trusts may already have a junior doctor group called a forum or something similar. The new JDF is not necessarily intended to replace these groups, if the existing group can or already does fulfil the remit and responsibilities of the new forums. Similarly though if the existing group has a different focus, there is no imperative to replace or merge with it, the two can co-exist. Each case should be considered individually.
    • Junior doctors who are elected members of the forum should have time to attend forum meetings clearly set out in their work schedules.