PoliticalSpeak: Judicial review & further junior doctor industrial action


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 9 March to 8am on Friday 11 March

− 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.

Yours sincerely

Mark Porter
BMA council chair

About the author

Prof G

Professor of Neurology, Barts & The London. MS & Preventive Neurology thinker, blogger, runner, vegetable gardener, husband, father, cook and wine & food lover.


    • I've had MS long enough to know this is the tip of the iceberg. You may not think it right now, but I've seen this all before. The NHS was on it's knees in the early '90s, from years of underfunding. Did anyone listen to the cleaners when their jobs were cut and we were treated on filthy wards? No, perhaps the doctors strike is the only way to stop the breaking up of the NHS.

    • "Strikes: withholding services from those who need them in order to 'help' them."
      Strikes in order to maintain a SAFE level of services for those who need them.
      Fixed that for you. lol.

  • This problem of medical relation – investment – public health service seems to exist in many countries. If so we would demand repayment of all investment employed in other social areas. In addition we must admit that most of the doctors are working 7 days a week, has exhaustive shifts scales, difficult problems to be faced, etc. Maybe the State is forgetting the Social Pact there "behind" and exposed in Rosseau …

By Prof G



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