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Junior doctors plan to ballot for industrial action


Junior doctors in England will be balloted for industrial action owing to ‘unsafe and unfair’ reforms to their contract.

The BMA junior doctors committee today decided to ballot its members in England on the Government’s intention to impose new terms and conditions on trainees from next August.

Doctors in training in Scotland and Wales will not be balloted because their Governments have stated they will not impose a new contract on trainees in the two nations.

An announcement from the Northern Ireland Government is awaited and the BMA will review this situation when necessary.

JDC chair Johann Malawana said: 'Today’s decision is a reflection of the anger felt by the thousands of junior doctors who have told us that the government’s position is not acceptable.

'The BMA has been clear that it wants to deliver a contract that protects patient safety and is fair to both junior doctors and the health service as a whole. We can only do this if the government is prepared to work collaboratively in a genuine negotiation.

'Unfortunately they have chosen to ride roughshod over the concerns of doctors with their threat of imposition.

'Instead of proper negotiations the government has insisted that junior doctors accept recommendations made by the DDRB without question. This would not allow the BMA to negotiate over proposals we believe are unsafe for patients, unfair for doctors and undermine the future of the NHS.

'The contract they want to impose will remove vital protections on safe working patterns, devalues evening and weekend work, and make specialties such as emergency medicine and general practice less attractive even though the NHS is already struggling to recruit and retain doctors to these areas of medicine.

'We remain committed to agreeing a contract that protects against junior doctors routinely working long hours, delivers a fair system of pay and does not disadvantage those in flexible working and we will not stand idly by as the government imposes a contract the undermines that.

'We’ve already seen reports of high numbers of doctors considering leaving the NHS to work abroad. These figures should serve as a serious wake up call to the government that there is a real risk that junior doctors will speak with their feet. To lose a large swathe of doctors in the early stages of their careers would be a disaster for the NHS.

'We have been clear. Junior doctors are not prepared to agree contract changes that would risk patient safety and doctors’ well-being. This has been our position all along and in the absence of any attempts by the government to address our concerns remains our position today.'

The JDC decided last month not to re-enter negotiations, which stalled in October last year because of a lack of sufficient safeguards for doctors and patient care.


Standing firm

The BMA wants the following concrete assurances in writing from the Government before we can agree to re-enter negotiations:

  • Proper recognition of unsocial hours as premium time
  • No disadvantage for those working unsocial hours compared to current system
  • No disadvantage for those working less than full time and taking parental leave compared to the current system
  • Pay for all work done
  • Proper hours safeguards protecting patients and their doctors

Junior doctors in England can help to support the BMA’s actions by:

Ballot papers are expected to be sent to doctors in training in England in the next few weeks.

The BMA today emailed all junior doctors and final and penultimate year medical students to update them on the development.

Find out more about junior contract negotiations

If you have questions about the contract negotiations or industrial action, email [email protected]. If you are having trouble logging in or changing your membership details, email [email protected].