Support the Junior Doctors – no imposed NHS contracts!

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JUNIOR DOCTORS are to be turned into slaves by Health Secretary Hunt who is carrying his threat out to impose a contract on them that will require them to work up to 90 hours a week!

They will be forced to work under the imposed conditions from August 2016, the Department of Health has confirmed. As usual, Hunt has opted to divide and rule. He threatened that imposition would take place if progress on negotiations had not been made by September 11. Since the Consultants Committee was also refusing the new contract and had also broken off talks, it seemed that Hunt would face a united profession.

Last Tuesday, the Consultants Committee decided to return to talks, leaving the Junior Doctors in the lurch. Nothing had been achieved. BMA council chair Mark Porter even said: ‘A clear definition of seven-day services is vital in order to plan what staff and resources are needed to deliver it.’

He added: ‘More detail is now needed on how seven-day services will be provided at a time when existing staff and services are under enormous pressure, including how additional weekend care can be delivered without weekday services being affected.’

The Consultants Committee gave way. After the backdown, the government now says that ‘NHS Employers will continue work to prepare a new contract for August 2016.’

The Junior Doctors Committee said yesterday that the proposals were unsafe for patients and unfair to doctors. It highlighted plans to extend routine working hours from 60 hours a week to 90 hours a week and remove the current pay banding system.

Its spokesman, Dr Collier, added: ‘The BMA wants to deliver a contract that protects patient safety and is fair to both Junior Doctors and the health service as a whole. However, we can only do this if the UK government and others are prepared to work collaboratively in a genuine negotiation.

‘We listened to the vast majority of Junior Doctors who told us that the DDRB proposals are not acceptable. We remain committed to agreeing a contract that protects against Junior Doctors routinely working long hours, delivers a fair system of pay, values the vital role of training and does not disadvantage those in flexible working. We have not received adequate assurance from the government that they are committed to achieving these goals.’

In fact, the imposition of a new contract on Junior Doctors by next August, shows how the government is proceeding to create the ‘new modern workforce’ demanded in the Five Year Forward View – the plan to privatise all NHS services.

The Tory government has made ‘seven-day working’ a political priority, essential for the Five Year Forward View plan for the NHS in England, promoted by the new NHS Head, Simon Stevens. However, this plan is a blueprint for handing over the whole of NHS clinical service to private providers.

Private companies cannot make a profit without seven-day non-emergency elective services, being performed in the evenings and weekends as well as normal working hours. This attack on all the doctors’ contracts, (the GPs are also having new contracts imposed in the new Vanguards) is the prelude to forcing through changes for ALL NHS workers. The NHS employers have made it clear that they want Agenda for Change ripped up so as to force through reductions in unsocial hours payments for all NHS staff.

The BMA should be exposing the government’s ‘seven-day service’ plans, as a Trojan horse for a huge reduction in unsocial hours payments, and as the prelude to handing over all clinical care to private companies. The whole BMA must rally behind the Junior Doctors and the consultants must stop conciliatory talks and stand up for their current contract.

The BMA conference must be recalled at once to support the Junior Doctors and instruct the Consultants Committee to withdraw from talks. In fact, the BMA should apply to join the TUC to fight to defend the NHS alongside the six million TUC members!

All NHS workers should attend the ATUA conference on September 27th (see ad page 2) where all these issues will be discussed and proposals for action made. Make sure that you are there!