Dear Dr Giovannoni,
Last Saturday, the BMA junior doctors committee met to discuss the decision by the secretary of state to impose a contract on junior doctors in England from August 2016. The resounding message from that meeting is that junior doctors cannot and will not accept this new contract.
As the government’s own former patient safety adviser, Prof Don Berwick, pointed out: “You cannot achieve excellence in combat with your future workforce, it makes no sense at all.”
It also appears that, in trying to push through these changes, the government failed to give proper consideration to the impact this contract could have on junior doctors. The BMA is now set to launch a judicial review following the embarrassing revelation that the government appears to have failed to undertake an Equality Impact Assessment (EIA) prior to its decision to impose a new contract on junior doctors in England.
The judicial review will seek to overturn the decision to impose the new contract and provide a declaration that the secretary of state had acted unlawfully.
Imposing this contract will seriously undermine the ability of the NHS to recruit and retain junior doctors in areas of medicine with the most unsocial hours, where there are already staffing shortages. As a result, there will be three further dates of industrial action:
− 8am on Wednesday 6 April to 8am on Friday 8 April
− 8am on Tuesday 26 April to 8am on Thursday 28 April
Over each of these 48-hour periods, junior doctors will offer emergency care only.
The government can avert this action by re-entering talks with the BMA. If it pushes ahead with plans to impose a contract that junior doctors have resoundingly rejected we will be left with no option but to take this action. The government must put patients before politics, get back around the table and find a negotiated solution to this dispute which addresses rather than simply ignores the outstanding issues and concerns junior doctors have.
Our goal has always been to secure a properly negotiated contract which respects and values the 24-hour, seven day a week service that junior doctors provide. That goal remains.
BMA council chair