For the first time in over twenty years, junior doctors in Wales will have the opportunity to have their say on a brand-new NHS contract which will see significant changes to their working conditions.
On Monday 3 October BMA Cymru Wales will open a referendum for its junior doctor members to vote on the new terms and conditions of service which has not been reformed since 2002.
The new terms which have been agreed are the product of a lengthy two-year consultation with BMA Cymru Wales, NHS employers and the Welsh Government.
Dr Evan Sun, Chair of the BMA’s Welsh Junior Doctors’ Committee said:
“The proposed contract package is the culmination of years of fighting for better conditions for junior doctors in Wales. We’ve listened to colleagues about the dangerous and demoralising impact of burnout and fatigue and we’re proud to present a new contract which will provide a safer working environment.
“These terms include safeguards to protect doctors from excessively long shift patterns, and enables trainees to get on with training, alongside providing vital service to the NHS.”
Dr Milan Makwana, Deputy Chair of the BMA’s Welsh Junior Doctors’ Committee said:
“We wanted to deliver a better work-life balance to encourage more junior doctors to come to train and remain in Wales so that we can continue to meet the rising demands on services whilst developing our careers.”
Dr Makwana continued:
“From 26 September onwards, we will be undertaking contract package explainer events in hospital sites across Wales to explain the deal to junior doctors. All junior doctors are welcome to attend the roadshows but only members will be able to vote in the referendum, so we are encouraging all junior doctors to join the BMA to have their say.”
Key elements of the new contract include:
- Safeguards on working hours – this will limit the number of consecutive days worked, cap a day’s work at 13 hours, and ensure doctors are given mandatory rest after night work.
- New system for pay - to increase the amount of basic, pensionable pay and frontload it earlier in the pay scale to recognise progress through training rather than years of service.
- New flexible training pay premium – a feature unique to Wales, which will provide additional pay to core and early specialty trainees who have undertaken additional medical work outside of training.
- Introduction of exception reporting – a system to ensure doctors’ pay reflects the hours that they work with recognition for overtime as well as safeguards to ensure training isn’t interrupted by clinical demands.
To underpin the new deal, the Welsh Minister for Health and Social Services Eluned Morgan has pledged significant investment into contract reform which is equal to 3% of the current junior doctor workforce cost. This additional funding is expected to cover the costs of moving over to the new contract as well as providing ongoing investment in the junior doctor workforce.
The referendum, which will run from 3 to 21 October, is open to all junior doctor BMA members in Wales and medical student members who are in their final year of medical school.
If junior doctors back the deal, the changes will be implemented in Wales from August 2023. If it is rejected, junior doctors will stay on the current 2002 terms and conditions.