Junior Doctors’ Contracts

Part of Opposition Day — [8th allotted day] – in the House of Commons at 5:44 pm on 28th October 2015.

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Photo of Mike Freer Mike Freer Conservative, Finchley and Golders Green 5:44 pm, 28th October 2015

Finchley and Golders Green is served by Barnet general hospital and the Royal Free hospital, which is just across the border in the constituency of Tulip Siddiq. In particular, the Royal Free is the largest hospital serving my constituency, and it is one of the largest and safest acute hospitals in London. It has the high security infectious diseases unit, which has recently been in the news for treating Ebola, and it is a major centre for research into immunology and transplants. Not surprisingly, it is a major teaching hospital.

Many junior doctors who live in my constituency have contacted me and despite my best efforts, using the information provided by NHS employers and the Department of Health’s online pay model, they continue to be confused and believe that their pay will be cut. I have no doubt that the selective information from the BMA has not helped. I welcome the reforms in principle and the commitment to introduce a new absolute limit on the number of extra hours that junior doctors can work. Bringing an end to the week of nights and capping the extra hours are welcome, but most junior doctors in my constituency are simply not aware that that is what we propose.

In fact, most of the junior doctors that I have seen believe that the reforms will increase their working week, leading to more fatigue and therefore jeopardising, not improving, patient safety. They believe that this will hamper the Secretary of State’s quite-right drive to improve weekend mortality rates. I say to my colleagues in the Department of Health that something is going wrong in the communication of this welcome reform.

Let me turn now to a couple of issues that have been raised by junior doctors and that echo some of the concerns mentioned by Dr Whitford. On retention, the Royal Free is a major centre for research and yet Dr Renee Hoenkampf, who wrote to me, is concerned that those doctors who seek to go into research and to step away from the frontline will be penalised by being held back on their progression pay. Those doctors who choose to have a career break to raise a family will also be penalised. Both those concerns will impact on women more than on men.