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Medicopolitical Digest

Junior doctors call for ballot on industrial actionConsultants reach agreement on £50m awardBMA will review healthcare fundingToo many junior doctors are working too long hoursTalks continue on new consultant contractHealth secretary sets out NICE's programmeMedical school selection: greater care needed

BMJ 2000; 320 doi: (Published 01 January 2000) Cite this as: BMJ 2000;320:62

Junior doctors call for ballot on industrial action

Representatives of the United Kingdom's 35 000 junior hospital doctors have rejected the latest pay proposals from the health departments and overwhelmingly called for a ballot of junior doctor members of the BMA unless the government improves its offer.

In September the Junior Doctors Committee (JDC) sent its leaders back to the negotiating table to push for a better deal (2 October 1999, p 869). The negotiators have spent many hours with officials, but after a six hour meeting on 11 December the JDC decided that the current offer was not good enough. It wants its chairman, Mr Andrew Hobart, to seek an urgent meeting with the secretary of state for health to brief him on the problems of junior doctors.

The health departments have proposed four bands to replace the current system of additional duty hours (9 October 1999, p 1010), and last month the JDC agreed that a banded contract was the best way to recognise the antisocial and intensive nature of junior doctors' work.

Negotiations should continue

The JDC hopes that negotiations will continue on trying to improve the banding criteria and on the other differences which remain between what officials have offered and the negotiators have called for. Agreement has not yet been reached on the contractual obligations to monitor the new deal arrangements, under which no juniors are supposed to actually work more than 56 hours a week; on the dates on which compliance with the new deal must be incorporated into contracts; on shifts; and on flexible trainees. If satisfactory progress is made speedily a ballot may not be necessary.

A ballot should be held only to further a trade dispute. In order to take this action negotiations between the parties should be exhausted. If the correct procedures are not followed a trust or the Department of …

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