Junior doctors have secured changes and clarification to the advice being given to trusts by NHS Employers over the locum clause in their terms and conditions.
Under this clause in the 2016 contract, doctors must offer to undertake locum work through the NHS prior to approaching an agency.
However, there has been controversy over the way this clause is being interpreted by some trusts.
The clause requires local agreement, but a lack of national clarity and consistency has led to some joint local negotiating committees unable to agree with trusts how to proceed with implementation.
The BMA has intervened in cases where trusts have failed to meet their obligations to their doctors.
The updated guidance from NHS Employers now makes clear to employers that doctors under the 2016 contract are free to offer their services to any NHS staff bank, and not just their current trust, that this is for specified hours of work, and not just their ‘spare capacity’ and reinforces the fact there is no compulsion to provide additional work beyond that set out in the work schedule.
BMA junior doctors committee chair Jeeves Wijesuriya welcomed clarification on the clause which employers had insisted on being included in the contract.
‘Some trusts approach to this clause in their contract has caused understandable anger and frustration among the junior doctors affected,’ he said.
‘It’s been clear to us since the contract came in that this was never its intention. This is why we’ve been fighting these erroneous and unfair interpretations and welcome this clarity.
'It is clear that this vague new clause is not working out in practice, and we will be seeking to address members’ wider concerns about it in the planned review of the contract this summer.
‘Junior doctors are hardworking professionals and this guidance rightly makes clear that decisions over when they take on locum shifts are theirs and theirs alone.’
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