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RCOphth continue to express concern regarding junior doctors contract

12 November 2015

The Royal College of Ophthalmologists remains concerned about the continuing dispute between the BMA and the Department of Health regarding the junior doctors contract. We continue to urge all sides to come together for further constructive negotiation without pre-conditions on either side. Independent arbitration may help to break the gridlock and this would be welcome.

In a previous statement made on the 23 September, RCOphth President, Professor MacEwen stated, ‘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.’

Ophthalmology registrars provide care for an increasing volume of patients daily as well as safe and effective care for urgent and emergency cases 24/7. This dispute is stressful and draining motivation from a workforce that could be tempted by the opportunities outside of the UK to further their career in medicine.

The College recognises the invaluable contribution made by junior doctors today and, more importantly, will make tomorrow. At a time when ophthalmology services are already dealing with capacity issues, we cannot risk losing future ophthalmologists from this unique specialty.

To survive, the NHS needs a contract that values and motivates doctors, both those in training currently and those thinking of a career in medicine.  Contracts and initiatives such as the 7-day working must allow for quality training time which ensures that the safety of patients is maintained and promotes a health service fit for purpose.

Professor Carrie MacEwen
The Royal College of Ophthalmologists