15 / 10 / 2013 Midnight
The Department of Health has today (15 October 2013) confirmed that NHS Employers have a formal mandate to negotiate with the British Medical Association on the national contractual terms of doctors. Negotiations will start this morning.
A successful negotiation will modernise the decade-old contracts. It will seek to remove barriers in terms and conditions that make it difficult to ensure doctors are present over more of the week and to address outdated elements on how they are rewarded.
It applies to all NHS-employed consultants in England and Northern Ireland, and junior doctors across the UK.
Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, commenting at the start of formal negotiations said:
“This really is a once in a generation opportunity to refocus doctors’ terms and conditions onto better patient care. And it will definitely be patient care that drives our decision-making process.
“We are pleased that doctors have entered negotiations. They know employers warnings that there is no additional funding in the NHS are not a negotiating bluff. They know that there is compelling evidence to ensure more consultants are present in our hospitals during the evening and at weekends. And they know that the longer negotiations take, the more pressing the issues become.
“We hope doctors will enter the negotiations with the same pace and purpose as we will and that we make rapid progress. Changes to terms and conditions are essential to help doctors and managers get on locally with making the patient safety and service delivery changes that will bring about more effective seven day care.
“We also hope that this debate won't be confined to the negotiating table. We need doctors and their professional bodies and medical royal colleges to be making the case for change too. That way we engage the wider medical community in driving the patient safety changes that everyone wants to see.”
The formal mandate follows months of preliminary discussions and the agreement, between NHS Employers and the British Medical Association, of heads of terms earlier this year (31 July 2013 for consultants and 20 June 2013 for junior doctors). They include:
- Seeking contractual changes to facilitate seven-day services.
- Reforming local and national Clinical Excellence Awards schemes.
- Reviewing pay progression to seek to enhance the provision of safe, high quality care, to reflect the professional development of the consultant and to reward a well-motivated, stable workforce while ensuring it is affordable.
For junior doctors:
- Reforming the junior doctors contract to ensure that it is safe, fair and affordable.
- Promoting professionalism and an environment where doctors in training are engaged and valued.
These negotiations apply to employed consultants and to doctors and dentists in training but not to contractor GPs. Contractor GP contract negotiations are being conducted entirely separately, between NHS Employers (on behalf of NHS England) and the GP Committee of the BMA.