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There has been a lot of talk in recent weeks about the future of health secretary Jeremy Hunt. But it is the future of the junior doctor contract that most interests me.
A decision on the future of contract negotiations draws near, but however we proceed, it’s your views that will inform our actions.
I have to confess that when the junior and consultant negotiations were referred to the DDRB I wasn’t particularly surprised. It had always been rumoured that this would be the case if contract negotiations failed. But, like so many of you, I was extremely disappointed and frustrated by the DDRB’s conclusions.
When the BMA junior doctors committee went into contract negotiations we hoped to improve the lot of junior doctors. But two years later we have emerged with a DDRB report that makes for grim reading. The DDRB’s recommendations do nothing to improve the current situation for most junior doctors.
Over the past four weeks we received hundreds of emails from junior doctors up and down the country expressing their frustration and anger in response to the proposals.
At open meetings across the four nations we've heard from junior doctors who are considering leaving the country, changing their career plans and reconsidering their training due to concerns about the impact that a new contract would have on their working lives.
What you have highlighted is the complete lack of understanding of the way junior doctors work and what they need in order to deliver the best care for their patients.
Many doctors have stressed the unfairness in the proposal that pay would only be matched to the grade at which the doctor is working. It means doctors who change specialties, or take time out of training to complete a PhD which would benefit their patients, would no longer see their pay match that of colleagues.
One specialty trainee who emailed us asked: ‘Are we meant to forget and not use the experiences we have had over the years, because they are now not valued sufficiently to be recognised in our pay?’
North Yorkshire ST3 Ellen McCourt tweeted earlier this month: ‘Tomorrow I transfer specialties, if the [Government] have their way this will be financially impossible for other docs.’
Dr McCourt, who now works in emergency medicine, has also blogged on this subject
The proposed extension in ‘plain-time’ hours – those which are paid at standard rate – from 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday to 7am to 10pm Monday to Saturday – would have a hugely negative impact.
Junior doctors have identified both the impact on individuals and the overall healthcare system.
London ST4 in endocrinology Bernard Freudenthal said: ‘We are used to working weekends, but it should only be insofar as necessary and we should be rewarded for it.
‘To blur the difference between usual working and non-working hours will remove all incentive from employers to use the workforce efficiently.’
He added: ‘The government runs us to the ground in morale and financially, doctors will simply emigrate, and aspiring intelligent people will cease to want to join.’
Your views and experiences will play a crucial role in in the months ahead. You can engage with BMA communities, email us and follow us on Twitter and Facebook
It is vital that we stand united as one profession, and together ensure that we get the contract we deserve.
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