Intended for healthcare professionals


The impact of the junior doctor contract—one year on

BMJ 2017; 358 doi: (Published 06 September 2017) Cite this as: BMJ 2017;358:j4125
  1. Abi Rimmer, news reporter
  1. The BMJ

This October will mark 12 months since trainee doctors began to sign up to new terms and conditions. Abi Rimmer looks at how it has affected trainees and employers

The October 2016 implementation of the new contract for junior doctors in England marked the end of a long period of unrest. Though the BMA remained in dispute with the government, ongoing strike action over the changes brought by the contract came to an end with its introduction. Since then most junior doctors eligible to move onto the new contract have done so.

The process began in October 2016, with obstetrics trainees in their third year and higher. Then in November and December doctors in the two years of the foundation programme who were taking up new appointments also started on the new contract. Between February and April this year trainees in psychiatry, pathology, paediatrics, and surgery began to work under the contract. Any remaining eligible trainees are expected to be working under the new terms and conditions by the end of October.1

Paul Wallace, director of employment relations and reward at NHS Employers, says that the transfer has gone smoothly overall but that it has created a lot of extra work for trusts’ human resources departments. “We’ve had lots of real hard work done by medical staffing colleagues to ensure that the contract was implemented in the way that we anticipated,” he says. “And so far I think it’s going well.”

The contract’s implementation has also created an opportunity for employers to reflect on junior doctors’ working conditions, Wallace adds. “Clearly, the world of work is very different from what it was 30 or 40 years ago, and as employers we need to reflect on that. In this case we’ve got a group of staff we need to be …

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