RCOphth responds to the publication of new junior doctors contract
4 April 2016
The new junior doctors contract has been published and the details are now in the public domain. The impact that this is likely to have on each specialty is becoming apparent. From the outset, the College has voiced concerns about the imposition of terms and conditions for junior doctors. The Government’s own Equality Impact Assessment of the contract (https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/junior-doctors-contract-equality-analysis-and-family-test) published at the same time, recognises outstanding issues and that ‘further work on the equalities of the new contract will continue after it is introduced’.
Time taken for research will be recognised for pay progression, which is welcome, but ‘there are features of the new contract that impact disproportionately on women’. This has implications for medicine as a profession that cannot be ignored, and raises concern for ophthalmology as the one surgical specialty that has both attracted and retained a female workforce. Opportunities should be equal in all branches of medicine, and of life, regardless of gender or parental status.
I, along with all other College Presidents, recently called for both sides in this dispute to step back from the brink by suspending imposition of the contract and the all out strike. My position has not changed and has, in fact, been reinforced by the concerns raised in the equality assessment. I believe that the only resolution to this dispute, and as agreed by all College Presidents, is for both sides to return to the negotiating table.