THE BMA has urged junior doctors to update their place of work details by October 23 so that they can take part in the industrial action ballot.
It added that Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has refused to confirm whether junior doctors would see their pay cut under the terms of the government’s planned new contract, said the BMA yesterday. Hunt would state only that there would be no cut to the ‘junior doctor pay bill’, after shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander asked whether he could guarantee that no junior doctor would be paid less under the new contract.
Commenting on Tuesday’s House of Commons debate, BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana said that the continuing lack of clarity over the terms of the new contract further affirmed the JDC’s decision to ballot members over possible industrial action.
He said: ‘We have repeatedly called for the government to give doctors the assurances they require over issues such as pay, recognition of unsocial hours and inclusion of working hours safeguards. ‘Over the past few weeks, both the JDC and junior doctors across the country have made it clear that we are not willing to accept a contract that is unfair and unsafe to both staff and patients.’
Hunt faced repeated questions over the junior doctors’ contract during the debate in Parliament on 13 October, as well as issues such as general practice and seven-day services. Leyton and Wanstead Labour MP John Cryer suggested there had been an ‘abject failure to engage with the BMA’ over the contract negotiations by Hunt.
Meanwhile, Dewsbury Labour MP Paula Sherriff asked Hunt what action he would take to win back the confidence of junior doctors, many of whom were considering leaving the UK as a result of the contract imposition. She said: ‘Like many (MPs) I have been inundated with letters and emails from junior doctors who feel completely undervalued and undermined by the actions of this government, so much so that thousands of them are leaving the UK.
‘This weekend over 2,000 medics and students wrote to the secretary of state condemning him for his proposed unfair and unsafe changes to junior doctors’ contracts. What further evidence does he need to see that he has lost the confidence of the future leaders of the NHS, and does he think he can win it back?’
Hunt claimed: ‘This is not about cutting the pay bill for junior doctors as the BMA have suggested it is, this is about safer care at weekends, it’s about reducing unsafe hours, it’s about doing the right thing for patients and that’s the right thing for doctors as well.’