Jeremy Hunt’s plans to change junior doctor’s contracts have been criticised by the chairman of the British Medical Association’s junior doctors committee
Despite the Health Secretary offering an 11% rise in basic pay and cutting the maximum working week down from 92 hours to 72 hours, there are still huge concerns about the terms being imposed. It is highly possible that there will be industrial action in protest against changes that both Scotland and Wales have already said they do not want to introduce.
One of the main issues with the contract imposition is the increase in what is classified as 'sociable hours'. As it currently stands doctors get paid more for working evenings (from 7pm), nights and weekends. The increase in ‘sociable hours’ would mean that junior doctors wouldn’t get paid overtime working at any time from Monday to Saturday between 7am and 7pm.
Despite Jeremy Hunt’s pledge that only 1% of doctors will lose out from the contract imposition, fears remain that the rise in basic pay does not offset the massive pay cut in working antisocial hours for the majority of junior doctors. Health and safety concerns about the number of hours junior doctors are working also still exist, despite the pledge vowing to decrease the length of the maximum working week.
Slater and Gordon employment solicitor, Ivor Adair, said: “Junior doctors must feel dismayed by this new proposed contract. Many already work excessive antisocial hours, sometimes without remuneration. This is known by senior management. How can further antisocial work on an already stressed and wrung out workforce possibly improve patient safety?
“A doctor, who is a mother, faced with working relentless antisocial hours under the new terms will rightly question how such in-built sex discrimination can be justified.”
Members of the British Medical Association now have two weeks to vote on whether they want to take industrial action and go on strike over the contract impositions.
Slater and Gordon Lawyers have a team of employment solicitors who specialise in helping doctors who work for the NHS. Call us on freephone 0800 916 9060 or contact us online and we will call you.