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DDRB: pay, hours and contracts

Will the proposed reforms to the junior doctor contract mean a pay cut for trainees?

Will the BMA re-enter negotiations on a new contract for doctors in training?

These are some of questions put by doctors in training to BMA junior doctors committee co-chairs Andrew Collier and Kitty Mohan in a live webchat.

The pair answered dozens of questions in the hour-long chat on Thursday night and will be responding to more than 40 additional doctors whose email queries were not reached in the live event.

Here is a selection of some of the common themes of the webchat:

 

Pay progression and protection, and standard hours

Pay progression, the end of banding supplements and a reduction in the number of hours that attract ‘premium’ pay were popular topics for doctors in training taking part in the webchat.

One post asked: ‘Under the Doctors and Dentists Review Body proposals, would my pay rise or fall, and how do I work this out?’

Dr Collier replied: ‘We are aware that lots of you are really keen to see some concrete figures in terms of the impact these proposals could have on your pay, but unfortunately we can’t establish an accurate and detailed picture of how it will affect all trainees as yet – despite our requests in our evidence submission, NHS Employers have been unable to provide robust data to let us make these sorts of calculations.’

He added that the BMA knew there would be ‘some winners and some losers’. For example, doctors who do lots of out-of-hours work could see their pay drop with the increase in ‘standard’ time hours and the removal of banding payments.

Another specialty trainee raised concerns about whether their pay would be protected having moved from medicine to obstetrics.

Dr Mohan said at the moment pay is protected when a trainee changes specialty but added: ‘Under these proposals, if you changed your specialty you would have to start again from the bottom of the payscale, meaning a potentially significant pay cut for trainees who may have mortgages to pay or families to support.’

The BMA, she added, does not agree with this.

 

GP supplement

GP trainees are currently paid a supplement to ensure they are not financially disadvantaged by their choice of specialty. Historically, they were paid less than hospital doctors and the supplement aims to even out the disparity.

One doctor asked: ‘How would take-home pay for GP trainees change?’

Dr Collier replied: ‘The experience of GP trainees is very different to that of hospital trainees, and the greatly reduced potential for out-of-hours work means that, without the supplement, GPs would be paid on average 31 per cent less than hospital trainees.

'Many GP trainees believe that the supplement ensures fairness and pay parity. I think that removing it could risk general practice becoming an inequitable training option.’

 

Less-than full-time trainees

The DDRB is proposing an end to automatic time-based pay progression which will hit less-than full-time trainees harder than others.

One specialty trainee in paediatrics asked the JDC co-chairs: ‘What safeguards is the Government providing to stop LTFT trainees’ pay being reduced?’

Dr Mohan said: ‘Under the DDRB’s proposals, there would be an end to automatic time-based pay progression, with pay rises instead based on actual progression to the next stage of your training.

'This would mean that those who train less than full time would see their pay increase more slowly as they would take longer to progress through the stages of training.’

 

Implementation

If the proposals go ahead, does the Government plan to change all contracts from August 2016 or from the start of the new foundation year one intake?, one doctor asked.

Dr Collier said: ‘The Government has said it wants to introduce a new contract in time for it to be used with the August 2016. It's not clear who would be affected immediately but it is likely that all doctors would be transferred to the new contract relatively quickly.’

 

Re-entering negotiations

Doctors taking part in the webchat also expressed their opinions over whether or not the BMA should re-enter contract negotiations after having left them in October last year.

In response to a question from a doctor, Dr Mohan said: ‘We are currently seeking views from our junior doctor members in order for JDC to make a decision whether to re-enter negotiations in the next weeks. Do you think we should re-enter negotiations?

One doctor replied: ‘Of course — surely exiting negotiations leaves no room for change.’

Another said: ‘That would depend on the aims of the negotiations and the options if negotiations weren’t entered.’

And another said: ‘Of course we must renegotiate. We all know industrial action will play into the Government's hands. Strong and effective negotiation from the BMA is the only thing that will save the profession.’

Read the webchat in full

More on the DDRB and juniors contracts