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How the junior and consultant contract negotiations unfolded


Key dates

  • August 2016 - Junior doctor committee executives vote to reject the contract in full and called for formal re-negotiations
  • July 2016 - Junior doctors and final year medical students vote against accepting the new contract in a referendum
  • July 2016 - The BMA decides not to proceed with the judicial review launched in February 2016
  • May 2016 - A joint agreement on a new contract is announced
  • May 2016 - BMA re-enter talks with the Government
  • April 2016 - Fifth round of industrial action consisting of a full withdrawal of labour took place on 26 and 27 April
  • April 2016 - Fourth round of industrial action took place on 6-8 April offering emergency care only
  • March 2016 - BMA announces judicial review challenging the lawfulness of the imposition of the contract, on the same day as the government publishes the details of the new contract
  • March 2016 - Escalation of industrial action, with a full walkout by junior doctors' announced for April 26-28
  • March 2016 - Industrial action takes place on 9 and 10 March, against imposition of the junior contract
  • February 2016 - Health secretary announces imposition of junior doctor contract in England, starting 1 August 2016
  • February 2016 - Talks concluded with no resolution. BMA decide to go ahead with the second day of industrial action planned for 10 February
  • January 2016 - Talks were restarted and based on early progress, the decision was made to suspend the 48-hour industrial action planned for 26-28 January
  • January 2016 - Talks concluded with no resolution. Industrial action went ahead for 24 hours from 12 January
  • December 2015 - Industrial action in England was suspended following conciliatory talks with NHS Employers and the Department of Health
  • November 2015 - In a turnout of 76.2 per cent, junior doctors voted overwhelmingly for industrial action
  • September 2015 - The BMA voted to ballot junior members in England for industrial action
  • September 2015 - The BMA made the decision to re-enter consultant contract negotiations
  • August 2015 - Junior doctors committee decided not to re-enter contract negotiations
  • July 2015 - DDRB submitted its final report to the Government
  • March 2015 - DDRB invited stakeholders to give evidence
  • December 2014 - The BMA submitted evidence to DDRB
  • October 2014 - The BMA stalled talks due to the Government's failure to agree to safeguarding measures for doctors' welfare and patient safety
  • October 2013 - Department of Health grants NHS Employers a mandate to negotiate with the BMA, formal negotiations commence
  • September 2013 - consultants committee agreed to enter formal negotiations for England and Northern Ireland
  • July 2013 - UK junior doctors committee agreed to enter formal negotiations

Stay up to date - see the latest developments


Junior doctor contract negotiations

New contract agreement

After many months of negotiation and of action by junior doctors across England, the BMA reached agreement on new contract terms and wider issues which addressed the concerns members raised. This agreement was announced by Acas, with statements from the BMA and the Secretary of State.

Read the joint statement

This agreement forms the basis of the new contract, which was planned to be introduced in stages for different grades and specialties from October 2016.

Download the joint agreement (PDF)

Impact of the EU referendum result

Following inquiries received after the EU referendum result, we would like to reassure junior doctor members in England that the new contract being introduced would enshrine certain protections rooted in the European Working Time Directive.

These protections are transposed into UK law by the Working Time Regulations and set out maximum weekly working time, patterns of work and holidays, plus daily and weekly rest periods.

The Working Time Regulations includes rights to:

  • a limit of an average 48 hours a week on the hours a worker can be required to work, though individuals may choose to work longer by "opting out" up to a maximum of 56
  • 11 consecutive hours' rest in any 24-hour period
  • a 20-minute rest break if the working day is longer than six hours

The new contract enshrines these protections in the terms and conditions of junior doctors in England and they would therefore be unaffected, for the life of the contract, by any moves to reduce or remove these rights following a UK withdrawal from the EU.

About the new contract

NHS Employers published the model contract for junior doctors on 31 March 2016. We understand there is a lot of information to take on board so we have compiled some useful resources to help you to understand the new contract and our outstanding concerns.

Read our summary and resources (login required)

About the imposition

Read FAQs about the contract imposition (PDF)

Letter to all LNC chairs across England (PDF)

About the dispute

What are the main issues with the proposed contract?

Read our briefings on further issues (BMA member login required)

Judicial review - update

In February 2016, we launched a judicial review of the decision to introduce the new contract on the grounds that the Secretary of State had not demonstrated his public sector equalities duty, to consider and have due regard to equalities issues in policy announcements.

Read the update (19 July 2016, PDF)

Timeline of correspondence

Since the beginning of 2016, there has been a continued exchange of letters between the government, NHS England, the BMA and all medical directors across England regarding industrial action.

Read the timeline of correspondence

Medical students survey social media infographic thumbnailSurvey on medical students

Has the continued dispute over junior doctor contracts influenced medical students' future career intentions?

See the full results from our survey

Recent days of action

See the highlights from the days of action which took place on:


How we got here

In 2012 the government asked the BMA to look into negotiating a new contract for junior doctors. After two years of negotiations, the BMA withdrew from negotiations because the contract on offer would not have provided sufficient safeguards for junior doctors and their patients - either today or in the future.

The DDRB, an independent body, undertook a review and provided recommendations for a new contract. After the recommendations were released the government asked the BMA to re-enter negotiations with the recommendations as the basis. We could not agree to the unsafe and unfair preconditions proposed, and so the government said they would impose a new contract from August 2016.

We have consistently and clearly asked government for the key assurances we would need in order to re-enter negotiations - the first of which was a withdrawal of the threat to impose a contract. These assurances have still not been given to us.

In September, the BMA's junior doctors committee took the decision to ballot junior doctor members on support for industrial action. We have continued to request the key assurances for genuine negotiations. The result of the ballot of more than 37,000 junior doctors in England was announced on 19 November, with more than 99 per cent having voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98 per cent for full strike action, demonstrating the strength of feeling amongst the profession.

The BMA called off industrial action planned for December following progress made through talks facilitated by Acas. Although direct contract negotiations took place between the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health, they ended on 4 January without resolution. As a result, junior doctors agreed to take industrial action in January and February 2016.


What is the DDRB?

The DDRB (Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body) is the independent organisation which every year considers the pay for doctors and dentists holding posts in the NHS on nationally agreed terms. It was set up after the Royal Commission on Doctors' and Dentists' Remuneration in 1960 in order to protect medical professionals' living standards from "arbitrary government action".

It makes its recommendations directly to the Prime Minister and the Secretary of State for Health, and their equivalents in Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.

The health departments, NHSE (NHS Employers) and the BMA (on behalf of the profession) send written evidence to the DDRB each September, followed by oral evidence in October. The DDRB usually reports to the Prime Minister in December each year and the report is made public, with the government's decision, a few weeks later, for implementation on the following 1 April.

Learn more about DDRB


Why were contracts referred to the DDRB?

The referrals to the DDRB for junior doctor and consultant contracts is separate to the annual submission of evidence to the DDRB, which refers only to pay.

The DDRB were engaged by the government in this instance to consider:

  • Pay proposals to end automatic incremental progression
  • Information on the working patterns of doctors in training
  • Sharing the existing pay pot in a different way to increase pensionable salaries, reward additional work, and support services and training across a seven-day week

The BMA submitted evidence to the DDRB for their special remit on contract reform in 2014.

In July 2015, the DDRB submitted its final report.


DDRB reports and summaries

Read the final DDRB report

Read the key points of the DDRB report

Read the DDRB recommendations for junior doctors

Read the DDRB observations for consultants

Read the BMA evidence to DDRB