What next for hospital doctors’ contracts?

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 02 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h4716
  1. Abi Rimmer, BMJ Careers,
  2. Ingrid Torjesen, The BMJ
  1. arimmer{at}

As the UK government prepares to change the standard contracts for junior doctors and consultants, Abi Rimmer and Ingrid Torjesen ask what the profession can expect to happen next

In July the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, said that the consultant contract would be reformed to help implement his vision for a 24/7 NHS. The possibility of opting out of non-emergency evening and weekend working for newly qualified hospital doctors would end.

The Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) has also recommended that for juniors, and possibly for consultants, the definition of unsocial hours should change. Under the new proposed definition, unsocial hours would start later in the evening (10 pm rather than 7 pm), and Saturdays would not count as unsocial hours.1

Hunt set a deadline for the BMA and NHS Employers to negotiate and agree new contracts by 11 September. The BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee has said it will not re-enter negotiations.2 The BMA says that it is considering next steps on consultant contract negotiations and that a decision will be made shortly. “We know that nine in 10 consultants are already working weekends and that the consultant contract is not a roadblock to seven day services,” a spokeswoman told BMJ Careers. “In the face of proposals from the UK government, which amount to imposition in all but name, the BMA’s Junior Doctors Committee decided not to re-enter contract negotiations.”

She added, “The BMA has outlined what areas the government need to reconsider in order to get junior doctors back around the negotiating table; recommendations around extension of plain time, removal of vital safeguards around safe working hours, and changes that would see pay no longer matching with the experience junior doctors’ gain through their training.”

As the deadline by which Hunt said he would …

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