BMA Cymru Wales’ junior doctors committee has voted to enter formal negotiations with the Welsh Government and NHS employers in Wales to reform the junior doctor contract.
The contract which was last updated in 2002 requires urgent changes to ensure the terms and conditions reflect the current working practices of the 2,500 doctors in training in Wales.
Doctors want to see improvements in rota monitoring, controls on rota design, improved pay scales, better provision of wellbeing services and protections for training time.
The committee, which is comprised of elected junior doctor representatives working in health boards across Wales, voted overwhelmingly in favour of revising the current terms in 2019.
The vote to enter formal negotiations comes after nearly two years of consultation with junior doctors, Welsh Government and NHS employers. Despite the pandemic, the committee has been working virtually since March 2020 to identify the needs of junior doctors in Wales.
The process looked at how the contract introduced for junior doctors in England in 2016 and substantially revised in 2019 could be adapted to best suit the needs of doctors in Wales, as well as considering new proposals for contractual change.
Dr Josie Cheetham, BMA Cymru Wales junior doctor committee co-chair said:
“I am proud of the considered decision-making processes that WJDC members have undertaken to reach this point. WJDC felt that voting to enter formal contract negotiations in this way was possible because the scoping talks identified that there is an important opportunity to shape new terms and conditions of service which reflect the ways in which trainees work and train in Wales now and in the future for the benefit of trainees, our patients, and our NHS.
“This decision is the result of the hard work of our negotiating team and productive discussions with policy makers and employers under challenging and dynamic circumstances.
“During the process the entire team have felt that they have been able to identify and broadly agree on areas where the 2016 contract currently used in England needs adapting to best enable our junior doctor members in Wales to carry out their vital roles.
“The pandemic has truly highlighted the crucial role of junior doctors in our NHS and the importance of good working conditions. Now with record high levels of patients waiting for treatment, Wales has never needed junior doctors more. It is crucial that we continue to work hard to ensure that we can enable, retain and welcome more talented colleagues to work and train here”
In the last meeting of the of the Welsh junior doctors committee, all representatives agreed that the discussions held so far indicated a good prospect of reaching a mutually agreeable deal through formal negotiation.
The committee has therefore instructed the negotiating team to enter formal negotiation with the Welsh Government, on the understanding that that the minister for health and social services provides an equivalent mandate and accompanying investment.
The formal negotiations which are set to take place this autumn, subject to government agreement, will focus on outstanding areas of the contract as well as a wider plan for investment and implementation.
If formal negotiations result in an agreed deal, this will be put to a ballot of BMA junior doctor members in Wales who will decide whether the new contract should be introduced.
Notes to editors
The BMA is a trade union and professional association representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives.