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It’s been a busy two years since Ruth-Anna and I first stumbled into our roles at the BMA – as regional LTFT (less than full-time) representatives and as co-chairs of the LTFT forum. We hadn’t planned to run or even met in person, until we found out on the day of the junior doctors conference that the position was up for election (my children still tell me off for meeting up with Internet Strangers). It’s been a very busy two years. We’ve attended college events and LTFT open days across England. We’ve read papers at 7am while on a train heading to a junior doctors committee meeting. We’ve spent far too long on social media (‘get off your phone Maddy, Game of Thrones is on’), picking up concerns, relaying them to the BMA, pointing people in the direction of helpful contacts or documents that could help them resolve their difficulties. And now this is my last blog for the LTFT newsletter.
I’m proud of having been a very small part of a big team that has achieved so much in the past two years. Thanks to junior doctor representatives and the staff at the BMA, determined, knowledgeable and always on the ball, we now have rostering guidance to help you and your employer work out a fair working pattern for you. We have new protections for English junior doctors on rotational training contracts, ensuring that whether you are posted outside the NHS (for instance, to the Isle of Man), whether you take time out of your programme on an approved OOPE or whether you simply rotate from employer to employer, you will have the same entitlement to parental leave and pay as if you had remained in the same workplace for the duration of your training. We have helped run a conference for LTFT junior doctors (and thanks to all of you who came and made it a success!). Last but not least, we now have firm protections for LTFT junior doctors in the new contract, with transitional pay protection arrangements extended to 2025 for anyone who benefits from them (and a further review of these arrangements planned for that date); contractualisation of certain aspects of the joint rostering guidance (eg if you have to attend mandatory training on a non-working day you will be allowed to choose TOIL or pay and you cannot be made to do a long day or twilight shift on a non-working day), and a new £1,000 pay premium for any LTFT junior doctor who is being paid on the 2016 arrangements but not receiving the old, restricted £1500 premium, to come into effect in December.
The BMA is a large and confusing structure. Two and a half years ago I knew nothing about it. I really didn’t have any idea what I was getting myself into. But I had a fantastic co-chair who doesn’t miss a trick. Whether you are an old hand at the BMA or a new arrival, your fellow juniors and the BMA staff are there to help you, inform you and poke you when you’re running late on all your deadlines. So even a clueless, disorganised newcomer like me can come away thinking ultimately, we did some good stuff this year. And the point of this is – as I keep telling people – if I can do it, anyone can. I would love to see all the regional LTFT representative roles well contested. There will be elections in the next few weeks so think about running. It’s not a very demanding role. There’s one forum to attend a year and most of the work involves responding by email to queries and documents that the BMA send in order to gather a representative LTFT response. Some of our local representatives have been busy with other projects; helping organise the conference, meeting their local trainees, organising workshops for LTFT trainees and members of staff who deal with them... there’s something for everyone. Or you could think about becoming a junior doctor representative to the LNC (local negotiating committee) in your trust. This committee includes doctors of all grades who discuss issues affecting doctors locally, supported by a BMA industrial relations officer (IRO) and take them to management to negotiate a resolution. We need a strong LTFT voice on our LNCs!
I’d also urge you all to familiarise yourself with your contract. What contract are you on? What pay scale are you on? Are you being paid correctly? Does your rota follow the joint rostering guidance? Is your work schedule correct? Take the time to calculate your average hours yourself at the start of every rotation and calculate your salary. You can follow our tools to see what it should be. It only takes an hour, and it’s well worth getting right!
Anyway, that’s enough of a lecture from me. I’m leaving you in the extremely capable hands of Ruth-Anna Macqueen and Lucy-Jane Davis, who will be a formidable pair of co-chairs. It’s been a pleasure and a privilege meeting and working with so many of you.
Maddy Fogarty-Hover is co-chair of the BMA LTFT forum