Juniors’ contract talks stall

NEGOTIATIONS between the BMA and the government over junior doctors’ contracts have broken down.

The issue of trainees’ pay is said to be a major point of disagreement in the talks which have been ongoing for almost a year and also cover consultants’ contracts.

The government has proposed ending automatic pay progression, with NHS Employers arguing that higher rates of basic pay would be introduced for junior doctors and pay progression linked to career progression.

But the BMA says NHS Employers had insisted on a “rate for the job” model which they fear would unfairly hit women and doctors who temporarily leave to undertake academic work.

A BMA spokesman said: “The consequence of this ill thought-out idea could be a pay cut of tens of thousands of pounds over the course of a training programme for these doctors.”

The BMA also blamed the breakdown on “inadequate safeguards against excessive working hours” in the government’s push towards seven-day service provision.

BMA Junior Doctors Committee (JDC) co-chair Kitty Mohan said: “The reality is some junior doctors are still working 90-hour weeks, leaving them exhausted and burnt out.

“By refusing to ensure that safeguards are in place, the government has failed to protect patients and junior doctors from unsafe and gruelling working patterns.”

NHS Employers’ director of employment relations and reward Gill Bellord said they were “disappointed” that the JDC had withdrawn from discussions “without notice”.

“It is a disappointing way to conclude 18 months of serious discussions which were intended to ensure safer working hours for doctors in training, as well as providing them with stability of pay and agreed work schedules that take account of educational needs, underpinning all of which is the need to deliver safe care for patients.”

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