Junior Hospital Doctors (Contract)

Oral Answers to Questions — Social Services – in the House of Commons at 12:00 am on 25th May 1976.

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Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Redbridge Wanstead and Woodford 12:00 am, 25th May 1976

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to finalise the junior hospital doctor contract.

Photo of Mr George Gardiner Mr George Gardiner , Reigate and Banstead

asked the Secretary of State for Social Services when he expects to finalise the junior hospital doctors' contract.

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

Negotiations on a number of detailed amendments to junior hospital doctors' terms and conditions of service, consequential on the main agreement reached with the professions at the end of last year, are still continuing, and it is hoped that they will be completed very shortly.

Photo of Mr Patrick Jenkin Mr Patrick Jenkin , Redbridge Wanstead and Woodford

Is it true that at a meeting last month the Department and the junior doctors' representatives came to an agreement, only to find that it was vetoed by the Department of Employment as being contrary to the pay policy? Is it not rather ridiculous that the right hon. Gentleman's own officials should not have been aware of the limitations of the Government's pay policy?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

That is not so. Of course my officials are aware of pay policy and all its implications. However, the ques tion of doctors' terms and conditions of service raises a number of difficult issues. The right hon. Gentleman raised one of them on the last occasion on which I answered Questions, concerning the amount of money that is paid for work done over and above the normal hours. There are these difficulties that we are trying to sort out.

Photo of Mr Eric Moonman Mr Eric Moonman , Basildon

To avoid the anxieties of the past, will my right hon. Friend give serious consideration to entering into negotiations on this matter directly with the Junior Hospital Doctors' Association, instead of having the impediment and interference of the BMA?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

I cannot say that that will be the arrangement. I shall not change the basis on which the profession is represented and on which we have negotiations with the profession.

Photo of Mr George Gardiner Mr George Gardiner , Reigate and Banstead

Is it not iniquitous that the junior doctors should in good faith enter into these negotiations only to have this spanner thrown into the works? How soon does the Minister expect to bring this matter to a conclusion?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

No spanner has been thrown into the works. The two sides have reached agreement on a large number of points. There is, in fact, only one significant issue outstanding at present. There has been a great deal of progress. The hon. Gentleman ought not to think that things are going backwards.

Photo of Mr Laurie Pavitt Mr Laurie Pavitt , Brent South

In this contract has full account been taken of the fact that of their 43½ hours on call in hospitals it is quite possible for junior hospital doctors to be working an emergency call service for general medical service for general practitioners? Has any assessment of the numbers doing this been made? What action has the negotiating committee taken on this matter?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

We are making an assessment of the explanation of the reasons why there has been a heavier expenditure in fulfilling the contract with junior hospital doctors. It applies for a number of reasons. Some have contracted for rather longer working hours than the average time worked out under the former system. Certainly more A units have been contracted for than was originally assumed. But these problems are not surprising, as one part of a major negotiation carried out with the junior hospital doctors.

Photo of Mr Michael Grylls Mr Michael Grylls , Surrey North West

Will the right hon. Gentleman comment on Oxfam's report about the employment of doctors from overseas, which Oxfam said was not a very good thing for overseas countries? What is he doing to extend medical recruitment here to see that we take in fewer doctors from overseas and more from this country?

Photo of Mr David Ennals Mr David Ennals , Norwich North

I have commented directly to Oxfam on its most interesting report. It is true that we are excessively dependent upon the services of doctors from overseas. That is why we are increasing and will continue to increase the intake of student doctors from this country, in order that we can be more dependent upon our own doctors. In the meantime, there are standards that have to be maintained. However, it is our hope that many of the doctors from overseas who have sought training in this country will eventually return to the countries from which they came, to use the experience that they have gained here.