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As part of the 2018/19 review and recent negotiations on the 2016 contract for junior doctors and dentists in England, the BMA’s GPC GP trainees subcommittee worked alongside the JDC (junior doctors committee) to develop our priorities for change.
We know that there were significant problems with the imposed 2016 contract, but for some GP trainees, particularly at ST3, it was also seen as a more financially attractive option. We therefore wanted to address outstanding areas of concern from 2016, as well as creating a route for those ST3s stuck on the 2002 terms to move across.
Our three main priorities were as follows:
1. Supernumerary status of GP trainees in practice placements
This provision contained in the 2002 GP registrar contract was not carried over to the 2016 terms and conditions, and we had heard reports that its loss was making it more difficult for trainees in practice to take leave, and the committee was aware of other protections that might be at risk because of its loss.
2. Travel expenses for trainees who require their vehicle for undertaking home visits
Travel expenses from home to primary place of work is not normally allowed, but as GP trainees we often don’t have a choice of using other options such as public transport or active travel, as we are required to have our personal vehicle for home visits.
Similarly, the previous arrangements from the 2002 contract were not carried over to the 2016 terms and conditions.
3. The GP pay premia
In the 2002 terms, the 45% GP supplement mirrored average hospital banding and was designed to ensure that GP training was never the ‘poorer choice’. With hospital uplifts now less clear, we were keen to ensure that a gap didn’t develop on the 2016 terms.
The committee had concerns about the way the GP premia is framed in the annexes and the risk of widening pay disparity over time as a result of this.
Coming out of these negotiations, we are pleased to have completely achieved the first two of these aims: supernumerary status has been re-enshrined in the contract. Travel for home visits has been reinstated and enhanced to include travel on any day on which a visit could be required, and to cover travel-associated expenses such as parking, congestion charges or tolls.
In relation to the pay premia, we have secured a time-specific commitment to review parity through a dedicated working group to be convened by the joint negotiations committee juniors. This is in part because more work needs to be done to ascertain current differences between the GP trainee premia and the average uplift of a hospital trainee which is now much harder to calculate.
In addition to our priority areas, we are also pleased to have secured the following benefits that we feel will be of significant benefit to you as GP trainees:
As is expected in any negotiation there are things we would have liked to have seen that have not been fully achieved, such as the limited extension of pay protection on changing specialties, and the forecasting risk in acceptance of a fixed 2% uplift.
However, on discussion of the details presented and the cost value of the changes to the contract – estimated at £90 million – our committee felt that the achievements on our priority areas and the other benefits (as well as the fact that many of the changes for hospital doctors will also benefit our members during their hospital placements) would be of significant value to GP Trainees.
The GP trainees subcommittee is therefore pleased to support the JDC in sending the proposed contract deal out to a referendum and to endorse it for acceptance as a substantive improvement to the status quo.
We understand from our negotiating team that they feel that all the wins that could be extracted during these negotiations have been achieved, and that NHS Employers would not have given any further concessions.
In the event of a NO vote in this referendum, all proposed changes and investment will be lost. It is therefore our expectation that the only possible way to seek further improvements would be through successful and sustained industrial action.
A YES vote secures the key wins we have highlighted and allows us to continue to develop the changes we need working collaboratively to achieve the changes to the GP pay premia that we believe is still necessary.
The referendum and what you need to do
The referendum on this deal will take place online from the 14–25 June. To ensure you receive the relevant information via email and are able to cast a vote, please login to the BMA website before midday on the 21 June to make sure your membership details are up to date.
You can find the full detail of the proposed contract deal here.
Zoe Greaves and Sandesh Gulhane are GPC GP trainees subcommittee co-chairs