Junior Doctors: Conditions of Employment

Department of Health written question – answered on 21st October 2015.

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Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Health), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government whether they set aside the agreement in principle with the British Medical Association on junior doctor working and instead acted to impose a new contract, and if so, why.

Photo of Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Lord Hunt of Kings Heath Shadow Spokesperson (Health), Shadow Deputy Leader of the House of Lords

To ask Her Majesty’s Government on what basis officials in the Department of Health have said that the claims made by Dr Dan Poulter, formerly the minister in charge of negotiations, that they had set aside an agreement in principle with the British Medical Association on junior doctor working and instead acted to impose a new contract, were incorrect.

Photo of Lord Prior of Brampton Lord Prior of Brampton The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State, Department of Health

No agreement ever existed - in principle or otherwise – beyond the Heads of Terms that were the basis for negotiations. No agreement has been set aside by the Government or the Department.

NHS Employers and the British Medical Association (BMA) agreed Heads of Terms for negotiations in July 2013 and commenced negotiations in October 2013, the intention being to conclude negotiations by the end of October 2014. The BMA walked away from those negotiations on 16 October 2014.

As part of negotiations, proposals for a new contract had been made by the management side (employers from each of the four United Kingdom countries). The BMA said it could not agree to these. The Government therefore asked the independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) to make recommendations.

The DDRB took evidence from the BMA, NHS Employers, the Department of Health and other parties. NHS Employers’ evidence, on behalf of the four UK countries, set out the proposals made by employers in negotiations, illustrating how these related to the jointly agreed Heads of Terms. The BMA’s evidence set out alternative proposals, which had not been made during negotiations.

The DDRB’s report broadly endorsed the proposals made by NHS Employers and made recommendations, identifying some areas where further discussion was needed. The Government invited both parties to return to the table with the DDRB recommendations forming the basis for further negotiations.

The Government, in England, has made clear its desire for the BMA to be involved in work to introduce a new contract. The Government has asked NHS Employers to work on the detailed design of a new contract for introduction in August 2016 and has continued to encourage the BMA to return to negotiations and take part in that work.

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