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‘Watershed moment’ as junior doctors’ contracts rolled out

The controversial new contract for junior doctors in England will begin to be rolled out from today.
Junior doctor

The controversial new contract for junior doctors in England will begin to be rolled out from today.

The new deal sparked the biggest walk out of doctors in the history of the NHS.

From today, some obstetrics and gynaecology trainees will transition to the new terms and conditions of service.

The British Medical Association (BMA) described it as a watershed moment for the NHS.

Ploughing ahead

The union's junior doctor committee chair Dr Ellen McCourt said that the government was ploughing ahead with the new deal, ignoring the outstanding areas of concern raised by junior doctors.

The BMA has written to all NHS trust chief executives across the country requesting that they pause the introduction of the new contract if certain conditions are not in place.

The letter states that trusts are not compelled to use the new deal and reminds them

The controversial new contract for junior doctors in England will begin to be rolled out from today.

The new deal sparked the biggest walk out of doctors in the history of the NHS.

From today, some obstetrics and gynaecology trainees will transition to the new terms and conditions of service.

The British Medical Association (BMA) described it as a watershed moment for
the NHS.

Ploughing ahead

The union's junior doctor committee chair Dr Ellen McCourt said that the government was ploughing ahead with the new deal, ignoring the outstanding areas of concern raised by junior doctors.

The BMA has written to all NHS trust chief executives across the country
requesting that they pause the introduction of the new contract if certain conditions are not in place.

The letter states that trusts are not compelled to use the new deal and
reminds them that certain requirements must be in place before they can legally introduce it.

The BMA has also provided a letter template so doctors can write to their managers and press them to delay the introduction of the contract until all the requirements are met.

‘Working under protest’

It has also provided an email template for junior doctors to notify their HR directors that they are ‘working under protest’ if they do not wish to accept the 2016 terms and conditions of service.

Dr McCourt said: ‘Today is a watershed moment for the NHS, as some junior doctors will be moved on to a contract which they have rejected.

‘It couldn't come at a worse time, as a recent BMA study found that almost
half of junior doctors are looking to move overseas, given their morale is at an
all-time low.

‘Many hospitals trusts may feel they have little choice but to rush to implement the new terms and conditions.

Imposed deadline

‘A great deal of preparation is required for the new contract to be put in place, but very little time has been allowed for this, due to the government's politically imposed deadline.

‘We know that a number of trusts have decided not to start using the contract in October and the BMA is calling on all trusts to hold off the introduction of the contract if any of the required arrangements are not in place.' 

Since January, junior doctors have staged a series of strikes protesting against the new contract, which is being brought in for all doctors below consultant level.

The BMA had also planned a series of five-day strikes in the run-up to Christmas, but called them off due to patient safety fears.

Roll-out until October 2017

The new deal will be rolled out initially to obstetrics and gynaecology trainees going into their fifth year of training, with other junior doctors transitioning to the new conditions throughout the rest of 2016 until October 2017.

Last week, NHS Improvement said it had been supporting trusts across the country to prepare to introduce the contract, with many junior medics getting involved in the contract implementation.

A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘Following last week's judicial review ruling, we must now move on from this dispute to the crucial job of making sure patients get the same high standards of urgent and emergency care every day of the week, which involves more than the junior doctors’ contract.’

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