Intended for healthcare professionals

Medicopolitical Digest

The junior doctors conferenceThere is little hard evidence of a medical exodusJuniors criticise private practiceThe conference …Government wants revised approach to NHS pay

BMJ 1997; 314 doi: (Published 07 June 1997) Cite this as: BMJ 1997;314:1697

The junior doctors conference

The new deal must be priority

Junior doctors have called on the government to give priority to the new deal on hours of work.

There was concern at last week's junior doctors conference that the health departments, health authorities, and trusts were losing interest. About a quarter of posts in England (mainly those with inadequate rest or actual hours exceeding contracted hours) had failed to meet the 31 December 1996 targets. Irrespective of contracted hours no junior doctor should be expected to work for more than 56 hours a week.The position is worse in Wales and Scotland, where 45% and 50% of posts have not met the targets. Figures for March 1997 showed no change from October 1996. The problem is worse for senior house officer posts: a third of these posts are outside the targets.

The meeting called for regional task forces to be fully funded and supported to carry out their remit; for a Scottish task force to be set up; for task forces to be given executive powers over trusts on new deal issues; and for a new NHS Executive letter to be issued to enforce these requirements. At present, Dr Trevor Pickersgill, a clinical research fellow in neurology, said, “task forces lack bite. They cannot make trusts do anything. We must send a clear message to the government that we want fully funded task forces for the whole of the United Kingdom.”

Out of hours pay is exploitation

The out of hours pay for junior doctors is 100% of basic rate for those on full shifts, 70% for those on partial shifts or in high intensity on call posts, and 50% for those on on call rotas. This means that a house officer can earn as little as £3.71 an hour for working overtime. The conference resolved that the current rates exploited the commitment of doctors to the …

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