Junior doctor contract negotiations
NHS Employers – T&Cs and FAQs
NHS Employers have published the final Terms and Conditions of Service for junior doctors in England.
They have also published supporting FAQs to help answer your questions.
New contract FAQs
We understand many of you will have questions about the new contract and what it will mean for you.
In order to keep you informed on the details we have produced a set of FAQs about the new contract.
New contract agreement
After many months of negotiation and of action by junior doctors across England, the BMA has reached agreement on new contract terms and wider issues which address the concerns which members have raised.
This agreement has been now been announced by Acas, with statements from the BMA and the Secretary of State.
This agreement forms the basis of the new contract, which will be introduced in stages for different grades and specialties as from October 2016.
The key improvements for junior doctors are:
- Recognition of junior doctors’ work and contribution across every day of the week
- Proper consideration of and provision for equality in the contract, with concrete support, including targeted accelerated training and pay protection for parents and carers
- Improved flexible pay premia for specialties- such as A&E and psychiatry- to address the current recruitment and retention crisis in these areas
- More rigorous oversight of the new guardian role to ensure safe working for junior doctors
Members will have their say on the new contract in a referendum planned for the second half of June – see the timeline below.
These are the key dates over the coming weeks:
- 31st May – Publication of new contract and supporting materials
- 3rd June – Junior doctor committee meeting
- 1st – 17th June – Roadshows to explain the new contract
- 17th June – 1st July – Member referendum on the offer
- 6th July – Referendum result
Why junior doctors took industrial action
The current industrial action comes after several years of discussions with the Government about a new contract for junior doctors. There have been consistent concerns about the safety and fairness of the proposals, concerns which we continue to hold.
In 2015, the DDRB, an independent body, undertook a review and provided recommendations for a new contract. When surveyed our members told us they overwhelmingly found these recommendations to be ‘unacceptable’. The BMA could not agree to negotiations with these recommendations as the basis, and the Government said they would impose a new contract from August 2016.
In September, the BMA’s junior doctors committee decided to ballot junior doctor members on support for industrial action. The result of the ballot of more than 37,000 junior doctors in England was announced on 19 November, with more than 99 per cent having voted in favour of industrial action short of a strike, and 98 per cent for full strike action, demonstrating the strength of feeling amongst the profession.
Initially strike action was suspended as negotiations started following talks facilitated by Acas. Some progress was made, but no agreement was reached on several areas of critical importance to junior doctors, and the offer that Government made on 4 January was still not acceptable to the BMA. As a result, industrial action went ahead in January with juniors withdrawing their labour and providing only emergency care.
Negotiations continued, but despite the best efforts of the BMA negotiating team, major sticking points remained. In February the secretary of state for health confirmed his intention to impose a contract, publishing the final terms and conditions at the end of March. Following the BMA’s efforts in negotiations and the attention to equalities issues brought by our judicial review, the final TCS has some improvements on previous offers – but the fact remains that the final contract would be unsafe and unfair for junior doctors.
This is why the junior doctors committee took the difficult decision to escalate action planned for April to a full withdrawal of labour. No junior doctor wants to strike, but the government is pressing ahead with the imposition of a contract that was not agreed with junior doctors.
Information for the public
The junior doctors dispute – in their own words
Few people choose medicine for the glory and the riches. Far more likely is the opportunity to make a difference, to help people – but just because, for most, this is a vocation, that isn’t an invitation to undervalue what they do.
While politicians and commentators may try and portray the junior doctors dispute as being all about money, doctors themselves are clear that it’s more fundamental than that: it’s about valuing what they do – and what they have to sacrifice to do it.
Key dates as the junior contract negotiations have unfolded:
- July 2013 – UK Junior Doctors Committee agreed to enter formal negotiations.
- October 2013 – Department of Health grants NHS Employers a mandate to negotiate with the BMA, formal negotiations commence.
- October 2014 – Talks stalled in light of the Government’s failure to agree measures to ensure patient safety and doctors’ welfare.
- December 2014 – The BMA submitted evidence to DDRB.
- March 2015 – DDRB invited stakeholders to give evidence.
- July 2015 – DDRB submitted its final report to the Government.
- August 2015 – Junior Doctors Committee decided not to re-enter contract negotiations based on the Government’s preconditions and threat of contract imposition.
- September 2015 – The BMA voted to ballot junior members in England for industrial action.
- November 2015 – In a turnout of 76.2 per cent, junior doctors voted overwhelmingly for industrial action.
- November 2015 – Temporary suspension of industrial action by the BMA following talks with NHS Employers and the Department of Health, brokered by Acas
- December 2015 – Industrial action in England was suspended following conciliatory talks with NHS Employers and the Department of Health.
- December 2015 – BMA Junior Doctors Committee negotiating team entered negotiations with NHS Employers and Department of Health
- January 2016 – Talks concluded with no resolution. Industrial action took place on 12 January, but action planned for 26-28 January is suspended while talks resume.
- February 2016 –No agreement between the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health. Industrial action (emergency care only) goes ahead on 10 February.
- March 2016 – Industrial action (emergency care only) on 9 and 10 March
- April 2016 – Industrial action (emergency care only) on 6 and 7 April
- April 2016 – BMA sets out clear offer to the Secretary of State: lift imposition and industrial action (full withdrawal of labour) will be called off. Secretary of State dismisses BMA offer and industrial action due to take place on 26th and 27th April
- May 2016 – BMA re-enter talks with the Government
- May 2016 – A joint agreement on a new contract is announced
Junior doctors in Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales
The Northern Ireland health minister, Simon Hamilton, has said he has “no desire” to impose the junior doctor contract and an imposed contract would be the “worst possible outcome”. He has said he would like to develop a “tailored solution” for junior doctors in Northern Ireland. BMA will be meeting with the Minister to discuss how we can work together to develop a contract for junior doctors in Northern Ireland.
On 18 September 2015, Welsh Government officials issued a statement to BMA Cymru Wales indicating that they will retain the current junior doctor contract in Wales.
The Scottish Government has made clear that there will be no junior doctor contract imposition in Scotland.
Join 170,000 members standing up to unreasonable Government demands
In the uncertain and volatile environment that the Government seems intent on creating for doctors, representation is more important than ever.