Why the BMA has entered talks
Since March 2020, the BMA has been working in social partnership with Welsh Government and NHS Wales Employers to reform the terms and conditions of service for junior doctors in Wales.
The WJDC (Welsh junior doctor committee) sees these talks as an opportunity to improve the working lives of junior doctors in Wales and address longstanding concerns around pay, rota monitoring and working hours.
Welsh Government and employers wish to work with us to explore whether a new contract could improve recruitment and retention of doctors in Wales, better recognise and maximise the value of junior doctors and dentists in the NHS workforce and further improve patient care and the health service in Wales.
How the talks are structured
The WJDC has proposed the following structure for the talks based on lessons learnt from previous contract discussions:
- phase one: fact-finding and development of a shared understanding
- phase two: discussion in social partnership of core contractual elements by reviewing the 2016 contract in place in England
- phase three: formal negotiation on outstanding areas of disagreement.
WJDC is reviewing progress between each stage to ensure that the direction of talks remains in the interests of junior doctors in Wales.
Progress so far
Talks commenced in March 2020. Following a pause during the height of the first wave of the COVID pandemic, they resumed in August 2020.
In February 2021, phase one of the talks concluded, establishing that all parties agreed contractual reform was desirable and that the group should proceed to the second phase.
Phase two of talks commenced in March 2021 and examined whether the 2016 contract currently in operation in England would be suitable for Wales. This included considering significant changes to this contract, if required, to make it better suited to the context in Wales.
Where BMA, Welsh Government and employer representatives could not reach a shared view on a given area of the contract, this was put aside for formal negotiation in the third phase.
Phase two concluded in July 2021. After reviewing progress, WJDC determined that there was a good prospect of a final deal being reached and so agreed to enter formal negotiations on outstanding areas of the contract.
We are now working through the final areas of the contract and a wider reform package. When this is complete, we will consult junior doctor BMA members in Wales on their views on the proposals.
What is social partnership?
Social partnership is a way of working which emphasises shared goals, transparency and openness.
It aims to find consensus where possible by identifying areas of mutual benefit as well as areas where parties disagree and more formal discussions might be required. Instead of seeing each other as opponents, social partnership is based on the premise of mutual agreement as a precondition of any reform.
BMA Cymru Wales and WJDC have years of experience working in social partnership with Welsh Government, NHS Wales Employers and other bodies both in contract reform and developing other policies that improve doctors’ working conditions.
What the BMA is doing to represent you
We are committed to ensuring the voices of junior doctors working and training in Wales are at the heart of these talks.
Before the talks began, we organised a series of engagement events in workplaces across Wales to give junior doctors the opportunity to feed into our strategy.
We listened to junior doctors across grades, specialties and locations describe what they like, what frustrates them, and what needs to change to improve their working conditions. We also issued an all-Wales survey of junior doctors which asked wide-ranging questions about working and training in Wales, the choices you make in training, and what you want to see from contract reform.
WJDC has used this information to inform its strategy and approach to the contract talks. Our dedicated negotiating team attends frequent partnership group meetings with Welsh Government and employer representatives to discuss contract reform and is supported by the whole committee and its expertise as well as BMA staff.
We will provide further updates to members in our regular newsletters, as well as on this page and across our social media channels as the contract talks develop.
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