Trust apologises for junior doctor bank holiday communication

by Ben Ireland

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust mistakenly suggested Boxing Day would be a ‘normal working day’

Location: England
Published: Thursday 22 December 2022

A hospital trust has apologised after wrongly telling junior doctors that festive bank holidays would be treated as normal working days. 

Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust had sent out a communication suggesting ‘no junior doctors would be stood down’ for 26 and 27 December, and 2 January, due to ‘operational pressures’. 

Instead, the trust had offered a lieu day which would be added to junior doctors’ leave entitlement ‘once the shift has been worked’. 

The trust apologised after local doctors banded together to raise concerns and brought the situation to the BMA’s LNC (local negotiating committee), which challenged the communication. 

The 2016 junior doctors contract confirms the NHS in England recognises Christmas Day, Boxing Day and New Year’s Day as bank holidays. 

Because Christmas Day 2022 and New Year’s Day 2023 both fall on Sundays, the bank holidays will roll over to December 27 and January 2 respectively this festive season. 

Vivek Trivedi, co-chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee, said: ‘Junior doctors are already overworked and underpaid, so to have received a notification that already allocated festive bank holidays would be considered normal working days – especially at such short notice – was hugely frustrating for colleagues in Barnsley. 

‘We are pleased the trust has now cleared up that this communication was sent in error, after it was raised by BMA representatives. With the junior doctor workforce already stretched to its limits, and with a ballot for industrial action coming up in January, miscommunications like this only add to the existing feeling of underappreciation.’ 

A spokesperson for Barnsley Hospital NHS Foundation Trust said: ‘We can confirm that there has been a miscommunication regarding the expectations of bank holiday staffing to our junior doctor colleagues. 

‘We have apologised to our colleagues for any concern caused as a result of this error and clarified that those who are not on call are not required to work over the bank holidays.’