Intended for healthcare professionals


Senior trainees will be balloted on new consultant contract, says BMA

BMJ 2017; 357 doi: (Published 30 June 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;357:j3167
  1. Tom Moberly, UK editor
  1. BMJ
  1. tmoberly{at}

Senior trainees, as well as all consultants, will be balloted on proposals for a new consultant contract, the BMA has said.

Delegates at the BMA’s annual representative meeting (ARM) in Bournemouth on 29 June voted in favour of a motion which said that “all consultants, [BMA] members on the specialist register, and junior doctors of year three specialty training and above should be balloted on the new consultant contract proposals.”

The motion, which was subject to an electronic vote at the conference, was passed by 116 votes to 89 (57% for the motion, 43% against).

Earlier this year, consultants voted against automatically holding a collective ballot of consultants and senior trainees on a new contract. At the BMA’s consultants’ conference in February, delegates voted against a motion calling on the association’s Consultants Committee neither to approve nor accept any new contract “without balloting appropriate branches of the BMA membership.”

Proposing the motion at ARM, Latifa Patel, a year four specialty trainee in paediatrics, said, “Our greatest asset in negotiations with the government remains our membership.”

“As such, we owe it to ourselves, the membership, to ensure that each and every voice is spoken. As we reach a consultants’ contract which our committee are proud of, why wouldn’t we mobilise our members? Why wouldn’t we give a voice to our members?” Patel added.

Tom Martin, an ear, nose, and throat consultant, also spoke in favour of the motion. “Those who are not yet consultants may well be those who have to work under these conditions for the longest time,” he said. “I think that they must be given a voice.”

David Rouse, chair of the BMA’s North Thames Junior Doctors’ Committee, spoke against the motion. He said that there was a need to be “practical and pragmatic” about the issue. “We need to think about where this leads,” he said. “If you vote for a ballot, and the ballot fails, then what? Are you willing to follow through and push for strike action?”

Vishal Sharma, one of the BMA’s consultant contract negotiators, also spoke against the motion, saying there had not yet been any decision to forgo a ballot. He said that the possibility of providing individual consultants with the option of choosing whether or not to move onto the new contract was currently under consideration.

“We have not decided to forgo a ballot,” Sharma said. “After lots of discussion at the consultants committee we have been given approval to explore the option of individual choice, rather than collective ballot. Once we have a final offer, that will go back to the consultants committee, who also take advice from other stakeholders like the Junior Doctors’ Committee, to see whether this is acceptable or not.”

Responding to those speaking against the motion, Patel said, “If we’re so sure of this contract, why are we not sure our membership will ballot in favour of it?”