Junior doctors could strike over proposed contracts

12 August 2015

Junior doctors in England have voted to ballot for strike action over new contracts which they say could see their pay cut by 30 per cent.

The British Medical Association (BMA) junior doctors committee said the ballot is being held because the Government wants to impose new terms and conditions on trainees’ contracts from August 2016.

In 2012, the Department of Health called for changes to junior doctors' contracts which date back to the late 1990s. After two years of talks, negotiations broke down. In August this year, the BMA refused to go back to the negotiating table, and ministers then said a new contract would be imposed.

Under current proposals, trainees would lose pay boosts they receive for working evenings and Saturdays, which will be treated as regular hours.

The case for contract reform surrounds apparent inconsistencies in what is a complex system which can result in varied working hours in different trusts. A more transparent system, with payment linked to responsibilities, is what NHS employers claim to be seeking. This would involve higher basic rates of pay than now, which would mean higher pension entitlements.

Under current contracts trainees have a starting salary of £22,636, rising with experience, to reach £30,000 within four years.

But earnings are boosted by a complex system of supplements. While hospital doctors can earn extra for work ‘out of hours’, GP trainees receive annual supplements of around £15,000 on top of basic pay, boosting pay by one third. The current proposals would axe such payments.

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