Visit COVID-19 resources

[Skip to Content]

Patient safety, service quality and workforce morale at risk from junior doctor new contracts

23 September 2015

RCOphth believes new proposed junior doctor contract risks, service quality, patient safety and workforce morale

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists shares the concerns of ophthalmic registrars about the Government announcement that it plans to introduce a new contract for junior doctors in England from August 2016. (The governments in Scotland and Wales have announced that they will not implement these changes).

The suggested changes include

  • ‘Standard’ hours being extended to 10pm and include Saturdays
  • Annual increments being replaced by less frequent pay increases that reflect increasing levels of responsibility which would be detrimental to those taking time out of training for research, for parental leave and undertaking less than full time training
  • Payment for only the hours in the job plan, even if the doctor regularly works additional hours
  • The removal of financial penalties for trusts that breach safeguards designed to protect employees from excessively long hours

The College supports a contract that remunerates trainees for both hours worked and the anti-social nature of that work; that recognises additional experience and training; and encourages research, academic ophthalmology and diversity.

In collaboration with other Medical Royal College Presidents I have, agreed and co-signed a letter to the Secretary of State for health, Jeremy Hunt, to express our joint concerns and to ask that further negotiations are reconsidered by both sides (BMA and government).

The College is not a Trade Union and it is not possible for us to get involved with negotiations about contracts. We are, however, in a position to highlight the effect that the new contract might have on future recruitment, retention of staff, appropriate training and the well-being, morale and equality of opportunity offered to our registrars as these will affect the quality of ophthalmology services and safety of our patients.

As President of the RCOphth, I am aware of the invaluable role that registrars play in the care of patients and that without a robust cohort of junior doctors the future of our specialty and the well being of patients will be at risk.

The College would like to hear your views on the proposed ‘Working for Change’ negotiations. Write to or follow us on Twitter and Facebook.

For more information visit

Carrie MacEwen
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists

See the co-signed letter to Jeremy Hunt here.

Members of the trainee committees that sit on the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges Trainee Doctors Group (ATDG) have written an open letter to Jeremy Hunt, Secretary of State for Health, to express their concerns with proposals to impose a new employment contract on all doctors in training in England in 2016. Read their response.

The Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Surgeons of Edinburgh, and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow write on behalf of our Fellows and Members throughout the UK to support the letter sent on 18th September from the other UK Colleges.