Junior doctors in England have voted overwhelmingly in favour of accepting negotiated contract improvements – accepting an investment in terms and conditions of £90m over four years and a 2 per cent pay uplift each year.
Announcing the news at the BMA annual representative meeting, a delighted BMA junior doctors committee chair Jeeves Wijesuriya (pictured above) said the deal represented a ‘clear answer’ from members.
‘I wanted to be able to come here today and tell you that we had succeeded. I’m pleased to say that I can. Colleagues… it is a yes,’ Dr Wijesuriya told a packed audience in Belfast, to strong applause.
‘It’s a yes to safety. To junior doctors no longer having to choose between driving home exhausted after a long shift or paying to stay. It’s a yes to humanity, to extended periods of leave when we need it and time off when we need it most. It’s a yes to new money – £90m over four years and a guaranteed 2 per cent pay uplift each year.
‘It’s a yes to better pay for weekends and late shifts – something the Government told us three years ago that it would never concede. To £1,000 a year extra for less-than full-time trainees and an extra point on the pay scale for the most senior registrars.
‘It’s a yes to using exception reporting when we miss out on our training. It’s a yes to the independently validated study of the impact on equalities.’
Dr Wijesuriya added: ‘Our fight for working conditions is not over, and it never will be. But we are already on the road to delivering step-on, step-off training, and more flexibility so we can reflect the reality of our members’ lives and ambitions.’
End to dispute
Nearly 30 per cent of members eligible to vote returned their verdict – with 82 per cent voting to accept the contractual improvements. The decision will be ratified at the JDC meeting on 2 July – ending a long-running dispute with employers and government and marking the resumption of collective bargaining.
Health secretary Matt Hancock said: ‘I am delighted that we have successfully brought to an end the junior doctors dispute with this landmark agreement. Junior doctors overwhelmingly backed our multi-year deal which recognises their dedication to patients and our nation’s health.
‘Improved working conditions and an 8.2 per cent four-year pay rise will give junior doctors and current medical students the support they fully deserve.’
And NHS Employers chief executive Danny Mortimer added: ‘We are glad that doctors have chosen to support the deal which, as well as a pay uplift, focuses on improving safe working and training. This agreement comes as a result of incredibly hard work on all sides to review and improve the contract, and to build a safe and constructive way forward for this crucial part of our workforce.’
Dr Wijesuriya also used his speech to announce he would be standing down as JDC chair in September – after three years in the role.
‘It has been the most immense privilege of my life, and I will never forget it,’ he said.
‘I leave full of hope and faith in my successor and for my successor... and I know, that they will do a phenomenal job.
‘Colleagues, we had a battle. Battles tend to get won or lost. But that battle three years ago had no winners. The deal we have achieved, and which our members have so overwhelmingly backed, means we can now say that we all win.
‘Our doctors, our patients, our NHS.’
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