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Now it's time to ballot


Ballot papers for industrial action over the proposed new contract for junior doctors in England will be sent out on Thursday 5 November.

Juniors can expect to receive them one to two days after this date. 

The postal ballot will close at 5pm on Wednesday 18 November.

Doctors in training have until midnight on Friday 23 October to update their place of work details with the BMA. 

The announcement of the ballot comes ahead of BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana speaking to an audience of doctors at BMJ Live on Friday about the contract and the association’s actions.


Assurances needed

Dr Malawana is set to tell the event on Friday afternoon that ministers still have a choice — give junior doctors the reasonable assurances they are demanding and work towards a negotiated settlement, or continue to issue threats of imposition and face industrial action. 

Junior doctors are also set to attend a march in Newcastle this weekend over the unfairness of the contract, which the Department of Health intends to impose on doctors in training in England from next August.

The march follows three held last weekend in London, Nottingham and Belfast. Up to 20,000 people took part in the event in central London. 

In a speech to the rally in the capital, Dr Malawana said: ‘I stand in front of you as one doctor and I stand in front of so many thousands and thousands of doctors who share the same desire to see an NHS that delivers safe, effective care for patients.’

He called on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to ‘stop attacking and undermining’ junior doctors who want to safeguard their patients’ and their own well-being. 


Northern Ireland decides

More than 400 people also attended a rally in Belfast where doctors leaders called on the Northern Ireland Government not to follow its English counterpart in planning to impose a new contract on junior doctors.

Northern Ireland JDC deputy chair Chris Hoo told the crowd gathered in front of Belfast City Hall: ‘We will end up with a tired and demoralised workforce [if the contract is imposed]. It’s not safe and it’s not fair.’ 

BMA Northern Ireland continues to negotiate with the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety on the matter.

A department spokesperson said health minister Simon Hamilton had not yet made a decision on imposition. 

The Welsh and Scottish Governments have announced they will not impose a contract on trainees in their nations.

Read more on the new contract