Intended for healthcare professionals


Problems with the new junior doctor contract

BMJ 2015; 351 doi: (Published 23 September 2015) Cite this as: BMJ 2015;351:h5077
  1. Jessamy Bagenal, editorial registrar, The BMJ (NHS national medical director’s clinical fellow scheme 2015-16), and general surgical registrar, North West Thames,
  2. Tom Moberly, editor, BMJ Careers,
  3. Fiona Godlee, editor in chief, The BMJ
  1. Correspondence to: J Bagenal jbagenal{at}

Why junior doctors need to channel their anger

Junior doctors are angry. In August 2016 the UK government plans to impose a new contract on doctors in England that threatens to extend their standard working hours while cutting their pay by up to 15%.1

Over 54 000 people have already signed an online petition calling on doctors to take strike action to oppose the imposition of the contract.2 Some medical royal colleges have also taken the unusual step of commenting on contractual terms and conditions, an area usually reserved for trade unions. The Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh, the Royal College of Psychiatrists, the Royal College of Surgeons, the Association of Surgeon in Training, and others have raised concerns about the potential effect of the changes on the safety of patients and on recruitment and retention.

Although many details about the proposed changes are missing, they may look fairly harmless at first sight. Changes are based on recommendations of the independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration. Among other suggestions, they include contractual safeguards to ensure that hours and rest periods are maintained; a separate hourly payment …

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