You will no doubt be aware of the current impasse we have reached around the junior doctors’ contract negotiations, and the high-profile coverage that reaction to it has received across social and traditional media.
I wanted to write to you to update you and outline our position.
In 2011/12, employers across the NHS asked for reform of the junior doctors’ contract. The system of banding was proving outdated, inequitable and adversarial. In December 2012, the Secretary of State for Health agreed to this request - also made by the BMA consistently since 2007 - and talks began. In 2013, Heads of Terms were agreed between NHS Employers and the BMA, but the BMA withdrew from negotiations in October 2014. The DDRB report followed in July 2015, but the BMA Junior Doctors’ Committee (JDC) - despite concerted efforts - is unwilling to re-enter negotiations.
Despite the JDC being unwilling to negotiate the specific terms, there remains a commitment within the government to implement a new contract along the lines requested by trusts and FTs. Clearly there is now a highly charged and volatile atmosphere between juniors, the Department of Health and the NHS in general, which has been fuelled by unhelpful misconceptions on social media.
Many of you have indicated that you are meeting with junior doctor colleagues to discuss and address their concerns, and I would encourage all of you to do so. I hope this factsheet and the Q&As on our website will help you and your medical director colleague.
In past disputes within the NHS we have been accused of standing back and being less than clear as to our own position. Our position here is very clear. I have spoken to your networks in the last 10 months and I know there is consensus as to the need for reform and a determination to see it fulfilled. As employers, we each need to stand together and play our part in reinforcing the need for change, ensuring the facts are heard and understood, and reassuring doctors that this is not a cost-cutting exercise and that they are valued.
The BMA may not be representing its members’ views in the negotiations due to withdrawing from the process, however those views still need to be heard. I am meeting many hundreds of junior doctors in London, Manchester and Leicester next week, and many more in the coming months, where I will hear directly their questions, concerns and anger. I encourage you and your executive colleagues to attend.
Junior doctors are an important part of the NHS but can often feel disengaged. We do need reform, and I am hoping through our collective efforts we can demonstrate we are willing to listen to their concerns, enabling them to refocus on their training and caring for patients.
I would be grateful to receive feedback from you following your discussions with your junior doctors.
The situation is likely to be subject to further developments and we know the BMA is considering its position this weekend regarding any industrial action. We will continue to communicate with you in a timely manner.
As ever, if you have any questions please do email me firstname.lastname@example.org
Your continued support is very much appreciated.