Junior Doctors' Dispute Settled in UK

Tim Locke

May 18, 2016

Talks between the government and junior doctors' leaders in England have been successful and a deal has been reached to end their dispute.

Junior doctors and the BMA took strike action over new contracts and concerns over patient safety.

It resulted in the cancellation of thousands of operations and hospital appointments.

The health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, decided to impose new contracts after talks became deadlocked.

Last week he agreed to pause imposing new contracts so that fresh talks could begin at the arbitration service Acas.

Settlement

The BMA and the Department of Health issued a joint statement saying they'd reached agreement.

This will form the basis of a new contract that subject to the support of junior doctors in a referendum will be introduced in stages for different doctor grades and specialties from October this year.

The BMA says the main improvements it has negotiated for junior doctors are:

· Recognition of junior doctors' work and contribution every day of the week

· Proper consideration of and provision for equality in the contract

· Improved flexible pay for specialties, including A&E and psychiatry, to help with recruitment and retention problems

· More rigorous oversight of the new guardian role to ensure safe working for junior doctors

The agreement details are being circulated to junior doctors who will be asked to vote on the offer in late June.

Joint Statement

Acas chairman Sir Brendan Barber oversaw the 10 days of talks that ended today.

In a statement he says: "The negotiators from both sides have worked with great intensity and in a good spirit to achieve this breakthrough."

He continues: "This long running dispute has clearly been an extraordinarily difficult period for the NHS. So I am glad that as well as cooperating closely in preparing the communications for the upcoming referendum, all the parties are also strongly committed to tackling together the bigger, wider challenges facing the NHS."

Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair, adds: "Junior doctors have always wanted to agree a safe and fair contract, one that recognises and values the contribution junior doctors make to the NHS, addresses the recruitment and retention crisis in parts of the NHS and provides the basis for delivering a world-class health service.

"I believe that what has been agreed today delivers on these principles, is a good deal for junior doctors and will ensure that they can continue to deliver high-quality care for patients. This represents the best and final way of resolving the dispute and this is what I will be saying to junior doctors in the weeks leading up to the referendum on the new contract."

Health secretary Jeremy Hunt says: "We welcome this significant agreement which delivers important changes to the junior doctors' contract necessary to deliver a safer seven day NHS.

"The talks have been constructive and positive and highlighted many areas outside the contract where further work is necessary to value the vital role of junior doctors and improve the training and support they are given. This deal represents a definitive step forward for patients, for doctors, and for the NHS as a whole."

SOURCES:
BMA
Acas
Department of Health

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