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The impact of the imposed 2016 doctor’s contract on less than full time (LTFT) doctors is one of the biggest issues for us as representatives of the BMA. The potential for a widening of the gender pay gap and the fear that the contract will push LTFT doctors away from longer hospital-based specialities remain core concerns. The failure to prevent the imposition of the contract rests heavy on the shoulders of many who have continued to fight for less than full time doctors within the BMA. The LTFT Forum is a very real example of how we are ensuring that doctors feed directly into every step of improving our terms and conditions. We have seen progress in several areas, but many of us are unaware of existing benefits that we are entitled to.
Check your payslip - are you entitled to the LTFT Pay Premia?
During the negotiations in May 2016, the BMA repeatedly raised the gender discrimination issues inherent to the new contract. Because of this, at the time of imposition, the contract had an additional £1,500 in the form of a pay premia for trainees moving onto the 2016 contract pay scales, as partial mitigation for the loss of automatic pay progression.
If you were working LTFT on 3 August 2016 or on maternity leave on 2 August 2016 and returned to work LTFT on the new pay scales, you are entitled to a flat rate of £1,500 for each year you continue to work LTFT until the end of your pay protection.
Written into every junior doctors contract is a review of the 2016 Terms, which we plan to be commissioned by the BMA and NHS Employers in August this year. We are currently working hard to agree with employers the terms of reference for the review and are looking forward to making an announcement on this in the near future. This review will be an opportunity for all doctors to raise issues with the 2016 contract and LTFT is a recognised key priority. We are aware that a contract that is overly complicated becomes nearly unworkable once the additional factors around LTFT pay are included. We are working to ensure that LTFT pay is calculated correctly and is understood by doctors and employers.
Alongside this there is clear recognition that the potential end of pay protection in August 2022 is causing a large amount of anxiety for a number of trainee groups. A review of the cut-off date for pay protection will be a key factor within the 2018 review. We will seek to ensure that no doctor falls off a cliff edge with an end to pay protection.
One of the major changes recently is the changes to the rules governing locum work. The GMC announced late last year that they have dropped their regulatory barrier to LTFT doctors undertaking locum work, and in February the Gold Guide (which governs training processes) removed its references restricting locum work. There should now be no regulation or training restrictions applied to your ability to locum. Please contact the BMA if you have any queries.
Following a call for evidence of rostering problems that we as LTFT doctors face, we have been working with NHS Employers and looking at developing specific guidance around LTFT doctors and the way that we are rostered. This guidance will look at issues such as fixed days of working, and the impact of courses and study days that take place on non-working days. I am hopeful that this joint guidance will be very helpful for LTFT doctors who are having local problems with their roster, and once the guidance is published we will be looking to work with you to ensure that it is implemented properly.
Since the imposition of the contract I know that many of us have had our patience and faith in the BMA tested. This is completely understandable, yet we can only help those who contact us. There have been a number of successes, particularly for members with issues relating to equality legislation and the impact of maternity leave on their pay, that has led to us successfully defending members on the ground. Support of this nature is why you pay your membership fee. We need you to tell us about your issues, so we can act on them, collate them and inform employers and government of the national picture. You can contact the BMA’s first point of contact on 0300 123 1233 or [email protected]
New flexible training champions which arose from the 2016 ACAS talks accompanying the junior doctors’ contract negotiations are being appointed to support LTFT trainees in trusts. The BMA was consulted in the development of the guidance underpinning these roles and the LTFT forum contributed key improvements to the guidance, including mechanisms to involve LTFT trainees in the appointment and appraisal of the champions. Led by the LTFT forum, the BMA is conducting further work to monitor the appointments of the champions and their effectiveness.
The way that the BMA represents LTFT Doctors has improved dramatically with the work of the LTFT Forum and its chairs past and present. We recognise that there is still a huge way to go to improve the experience for LTFT doctors but there are opportunities like never before. The Junior Doctors Conference takes place on the 19th May and I hope to see as many of you there as possible as we set the direction for Juniors for the 2018 review and the year to come.
Pete Campbell is the JDC Deputy Chair Terms and Conditions of Service and Negotiations
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