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Secretary of State, Jeremy Hunt asks all parties to continue junior doctor contract negotiations

9 October 2015

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists notes the letter by the Secretary of State to the Junior Doctors Committee of the British Medical Association.  Mr Hunt outlines that proposals for the new contract for junior doctors must be addressed through further negotiation by all parties. The RCOphth recognises and values ophthalmic registrars for their continuing contribution to our specialty and the service they provide now and in the future for the benefit of patients.

Commenting on the letter from Secretary of State to Dr. Johann Malawana, Chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, Professor Sue Bailey Chair of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges said:

“We are pleased to see the initiative from the Secretary of State to seek to unblock the impasse on the junior doctors’ contract.

The current concerns around the contract reflect a strong feeling from our trainees that they are not valued in the NHS. Aside from the specific outcome on the contract, the Academy believes this underlying issue has to be addressed and Colleges are keen to play their part.

The view of Colleges is that the current difficulties will only be addressed through a return to negotiation and this must be the priority for the BMA and NHS Employers.

Whilst Colleges have no responsibility for the detail of terms and conditions we are clear that the highest standards of patient care are delivered by energetic, motivated and properly rested doctors with a positive work life balance. This also results in the most effective learning. We hope this is reflected in the outcome of contract discussions.”

 

The Secretary of State’s letter can be read here: https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/health-secretary-jeremy-hunt-writes-to-jdc-chair-johann-malawana

In the letter, Mr Hunt writes:

“Firstly, this is not a cost cutting exercise. I can give you a categorical assurance that I am not seeking to save any money from the junior doctors’ paybill.”

“Secondly, I want the new contract to improve patient safety by better supporting a seven day NHS. The Government was elected on a manifesto commitment to ensure that the quality of NHS care is the same across the week.”

“Thirdly, I believe that our ambition for the NHS to be the safest health care system in the world is underpinned by reducing, not increasing, the number of hours junior doctors work each week. Junior doctors already work seven days and are the backbone of medical care in hospitals at weekends and at night.”

And goes on to say, “I am saddened by the distress being caused to junior doctors who were misled by the calculator on the BMA website into believing that their pay will be cut by 30% and that they will be asked to work many more hours each week. As you know, the Government has been saying privately to the BMA for many months that we have no such intention, so I hope that this letter, with a set of unequivocal assurances, now helps us to move the debate on and provides reassurance to junior doctors who have been on the receiving end of significant misinformation.

The negotiations on the new contract began on the basis of a shared view between the BMA and employers that the current contract had served its purpose and needed reform. The best deal for junior doctors will be achieved by the BMA coming to the table to negotiate on their behalf and I urge you now to do this.”