Junior doctors – know your rights

The BMA Welsh junior doctors committee outlines junior doctors' entitlements at work

Location: Wales
Published: Monday 3 August 2020
Busy hospital with blurred figures moving through a reception area

As changeover day is fast approaching, there’s a great deal to take in.

Junior doctors are a vital element of Wales' health and social care workforce, yet many are unsure of their contractual and workplace rights.

The BMA Welsh junior doctors committee wants junior doctors in Wales to understand their workplace rights and entitlements and the executive subcommittee has compiled a quick guide to some of the rights junior doctors have, how you can protect them and how we can support you with any issues you may encounter.

Our employment advisers are here to support you every step of the way, with any concerns you have. Please contact them using the details below if you need any advice or support.

Rotas

Rota monitoring ensures your actual working hours are in line with your contractual rights, that you have the correct banding and receive the correct pay and banding supplement for the work that you do. It's compulsory and it benefits you, your patients and your employer.

  • You should receive your individual rota at least six weeks in advance
  • You should be invited to take part in rota monitoring at least every six months, but you can request rota monitoring at any point, and employers must comply
  • Your rota should not require you to spend more than 12 consecutive days at work, and you should not be required to start work before your start time
  • Changes to rota design can only occur if the majority of junior doctors working that rota agree to the changes, and you should not be put under pressure by others to alter your rota monitoring returns to ensure they comply with your contract
  • You have a right to require that rota coordinators do not use your personal mobile phone number to contact you about shifts. Rota monitoring also helps ensure you take the breaks and time off you’re entitled to. View our video on leave and entitlements for junior doctors.

Employers should also anticipate and mitigate the risks of fatigue and sleep deprivation in accordance with the Welsh Fatigue and Facilities Charter. They should all have a formal policy for raising serious concerns about patient safety and staff wellbeing, including how to report bullying, undermining and harassment, poor accommodation standards and overtime work.

What you should do

If you haven’t received your rota information according to the required timeline, or are having difficulties altering your rota, there are several steps you can take to resolve this.

  • If you are a foundation trainee, contact the Wales foundation school
  • If you are a core or specialty trainee, contact your department or rota coordinator and then HR in your health board
  • If you miss training opportunities due to your rota design, be sure to log this on the Education Contract Exception Reporting Tool platform and keep a note to evidence for your ARCP. In addition, contact your clinical and education supervisors. If required, you can escalate by contacting your local college tutor or foundation school lead, or if necessary, your training programme director
  • If you encounter any difficulties, are missing contact details or are unsure how to proceed at any stage of the process, contact the BMA’s employment advisers and/or your local negotiating committee.

Raising concerns

If you are concerned that a situation you are in is likely to cause harm if it continues, or could risk patient safety, you have a professional duty to raise these concerns under GMC's Good Medical Practice as soon as possible.

  • You should check your health board’s whistleblowing agreement or raising concerns policy, to make sure you have legal protection from your employers against being subjected to detrimental treatment for raising concerns. Check the health board's intranet page to find the policies or contact your HR department
  • You should also seek advice and representation from your trade union (us) as soon as you can
  • You must contact your line manager, supervisor, or a senior colleague to initially raise or follow up your concern about situations that can cause harm to yourself, patients, or other staff
  • You should receive feedback about how the concern you have raised has been examined and responded to
  • Be sure to feed back the issues you've encountered in your HEIW end of placement survey, the GMC National Training Survey and through your local negotiating committee. You can also contact the GMC directly to raise concerns, however we advise speaking to one of our Employment Advisers first.

If you're having problems or have any questions about raising concerns, please do contact us. We can help you protect your legal position and your employment before raising a concern externally.

Handovers

  • If you're asked to start early or finish late to do your handover, the extra hours should count as working time
  • You shouldn’t be expected to carry 'two bleeps' or double up roles due to an unexpected rota gap. Your employer should be arranging cover.

What you should do

  • If you have worked beyond your normal working hours due to extra duty and are not able to formally hand over work, enquire with your department about their "breach of hours" policy. If you are asked to stay over your normal rotation hours, you can fill out a breach of hours form within 48 hours of the breach of duty. Ensure forms are signed by a senior clinician who requested you to stay over your normal working hours.

Contact us

You can contact the BMA’s advisers on 0300 123 1233 if you’re having any problems. We’re here to help you every step of the way.

Useful resources