Your chance to improve conditions for juniors

by Rowan Gossedge

Passionate about improving doctors’ lives? Then vote or stand for election

Location: UK
Last reviewed: 27 August 2020
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It is that time of year again, when we elect our new session’s representatives for the regional junior doctors’ committees in England.

Our mission as the UK junior doctors committee is to improve the working environment of junior doctors. These representatives, once elected, will represent your views on how to achieve this and work to improve your lives through local, regional work and through UKJDC.

You don’t need to have experience of trade unionism or leadership, there is a space for you on your RJDC or UKJDC committee whether you want your first experience of leadership and management, whether you are a committed trade unionist, or if you are someone who has a passion project that they want to take forward. The only qualifying criteria are to be a BMA member, to be passionate about improving junior doctors’ working lives and to have the time to give to make the difference.

Even if you don’t want to run in the elections please do vote – and choose the representative that most represents your views and values. It has been a difficult year owing to COVID-19, where tough decisions needed to be made. We should expect another year full of difficulties from COVID-19 where hard choices will need to be made and when issues inevitably arise this is your chance to influence the sort of decision made.

In total there are 13 English RJDC’s each working to support trainees regionally and who send representatives to UK JDC. You can apply for the RJDC you live in or the one in which you work and you can run for as many committee positions as you want in that RJDC but you can only apply to run in one RJDC.

The junior doctors committee of the BMA is the only national representative organisation that independently runs elections of its representatives every year. Our principles for these elections are to ensure democratic accountability from our membership and to ensure it is as easy for someone new to the association to get elected and be involved as it is for one who has been involved for years. This is your opportunity to have your say on the direction of improvements and how your views are portrayed and interacted with national stakeholders.

COVID-19 has fundamentally affected us as junior doctors, our families, friends, and the NHS we have worked in. The whirlwind of changes the NHS is now going through will have dramatic effects on the training and contractual working environment for us all, for years to come. We will need driven, passionate colleagues from all backgrounds willing to give time to feed into work to ensure the voices of junior doctors are heard in all branches of the structures of the NHS and factored into the many decisions that will be needed if a second COVID spike occurs.

The JDC has represented you nationally, finding and delivering solutions for flexibility in training, the creation of no-fault Annual Review of Competency Progression outcomes, improved special circumstances applications for training, expansion of less-than full-time training with no prior reason, the creation of the out-of-programme pause option, the creation of the FiY post, the implementation of the changes of the contract in England from the 2018 contract review and trying to make the best out of the recruitment situation.

COVID-19 has also affected each of us at home, with our families at work and in our training, so it should be no surprise that it affects us at the BMA. Owing to planned structural change voted through UK JDC in 2018 we are unable to clarify how many representatives each RJDC will receive on UK JDC until the BM annual representative meeting occurs on the 15 September.

This has meant a change in our election timetable, timings of our meetings at RJDC and UK JDC and when we can formally clarify how many representatives come from each RJDC and devolved nation. For most this will be an increase or decrease of one elected representative. This will be explained in greater depth on the elections website but do be aware and do get in contact with the RJDC industrial relations officer. Their details are on the elections website if you have any questions.

Being involved in your RJDC and UK JDC is an opportunity to improve the working environment for junior doctors, learn new skills, make new friends, be inspired by colleagues, expand your knowledge of how the NHS works and how different organisations interact with each other. It also helps you gain experience in leadership and management which will help develop you into a well-rounded effective clinician.

Rowan Gossedge is national regional junior doctors committee chair and East of England regional junior doctors committee chair