THE NEW contract being imposed by the Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt on junior doctors is ‘potentially illegal’, an equal rights watchdog reported yesterday.
The campaign against the imposition of the new contract which junior doctors rightly insist is ‘unfair and unsafe’ led to the first-ever full walk-out of junior doctors on Tuesday and Wednesday of this week.
It now emerges that Britain’s equality watchdog, the Equality and Human Rights Commission (EHRC) has produced a report which says that the imposed contract may well be in breach of European human rights legislation.
By the government’s own admission, the new contract will have an adverse affect on those with child care responsibilities. This means that the contract may discriminate against women and single parents in the workplace.
The EHRC states: ‘We are concerned that the UK government’s analysis (of the equality issue raised by the contract) suggests an adverse impact of the contract on groups that disproportionately include women, such as those who take time away from work for maternity leave and caring responsibilities.
‘This may indicate that women junior doctors will have inferior conditions of work under the new contract, which would be inconsistent with Article 7 ICESCR, unless it can be justified.’
Dr Johann Malawana, chair of the BMA junior doctors committee said: ‘This reinforces the government’s own admission that this contract is unfair and discriminates against women.
‘These findings by the human rights watchdog confirm that women would be disadvantaged under the contract the government is trying to impose. This total disregard for equality and fairness is frankly appalling and is the basis of a legal challenge being brought by the BMA against the government.’