BMA backs junior doctors in row over working hours and pay

Support us and go ad-free

The British Medical Association (BMA) has seen a surge in members as it backs the calls made by junior doctors not to impose controversial reforms to their working contracts. Negotiations involving the Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt have broken down following a row focusing on how the contract changes affect junior doctors’ working hours and pay. The BMA has now come out to say that the Government should ‘go back to the drawing board’ on junior doctor contracts and ‘ask trainees what they want’ in their most recent announcement on the issue this week.

The key issue lies with the Government’s new pay deal – currently doctors are compensated at a premium rate for working unsocial hours, in a bid to push for the new 7-day NHS. Under the new regime, doctors’ normal working week days will be reclassified to include Saturdays up to 10pm. This could see medics facing a gross pay cut of up to 30%.

Furthermore, trainees who choose not to (or are not able to) work full time would see their pay increase more slowly than their colleagues. Dr Andrew Hartle, president of the Association of Anaesthetists of Great Britain and Ireland, also expressed concerns that proposals to remove some safeguards around shift breaks would be especially detrimental to doctors working during pregnancy, and therefore effectively discriminate against female doctors.

The BMA is pushing for concrete assurances in writing from the Government before they can agree to re-enter negotiations, including the proper recognition of unsocial hours as premium time and the removal of punitive measures levied upon those not working full time hours.

Conservative MP Dan Poulter has come out in support of the medics who have raised concerns and has written an article in The Guardian criticising the Government’s handling of the negotiations with the BMA. Stretching an already pressured workforce from working a 60-hour week towards an estimated 90-hour week would result in more mistakes being made by exhausted professionals and discourage fresh talent from applying (especially in hard-to-recruit specialisms such as A&E).

However financial penalties are not the only matter at stake –  this debate is also about ensuring a proper sense of work-life balance and valuing trainees. There have been warnings of an ‘exodus’ UK medics –  who are sorely needed to bring the Government’s vision of a 7-day NHS to life – to countries such as Australia, as a result of this new contract.

Furthermore, it’s not only professionals that have concerns about the changes – patients do as well. Dr Mark Porter, The BMA’s council chair, said:

Read on...

Support us and go ad-free

“It is vital that the prime minister is honest with the public about how he expects to pay and staff a truly seven-day NHS. It is not just doctors wanting answers. A recent public survey showed that two thirds of respondents do not believe the NHS can currently afford seven-day services in hospitals, while three quarters do not want to see a reduction in mid-week services.”

Hunt has indicated during this week’s Conservative Party Conference in Manchester that he ‘will not waver’ and will deliver these contract changes (affecting all medics up to consultant level) next year. He has however, denied that junior doctors’ will see their pay cut in his speech this week.

The BMA hs recently announced plans to ballot members of its Junior Doctors Committee to decide on whether to take industrial action. Informally, 12,000 people have indicated they will attend another demonstration on 17 October.

Featured Image via Wikimedia/Ted Eytan

Support us and go ad-free

We need your help to keep speaking the truth

Every story that you have come to us with; each injustice you have asked us to investigate; every campaign we have fought; each of your unheard voices we amplified; we do this for you. We are making a difference on your behalf.

Our fight is your fight. You’ve supported our collective struggle every time you gave us a like; and every time you shared our work across social media. Now we need you to support us with a monthly donation.

We have published nearly 2,000 articles and over 50 films in 2021. And we want to do this and more in 2022 but we don’t have enough money to go on at this pace. So, if you value our work and want us to continue then please join us and be part of The Canary family.

In return, you get:

* Advert free reading experience
* Quarterly group video call with the Editor-in-Chief
* Behind the scenes monthly e-newsletter
* 20% discount in our shop

Almost all of our spending goes to the people who make The Canary’s content. So your contribution directly supports our writers and enables us to continue to do what we do: speaking truth, powered by you. We have weathered many attempts to shut us down and silence our vital opposition to an increasingly fascist government and right-wing mainstream media.

With your help we can continue:

* Holding political and state power to account
* Advocating for the people the system marginalises
* Being a media outlet that upholds the highest standards
* Campaigning on the issues others won’t
* Putting your lives central to everything we do

We are a drop of truth in an ocean of deceit. But we can’t do this without your support. So please, can you help us continue the fight?

The Canary Support us

Comments are closed