The contract was rejected by 58 per cent of junior doctors in an industrial ballot
Jeremy Hunt has announced that he once again intends to impose the government’s junior doctors’ contract, following the rejection of the revised contract agreed upon by the Department of Health and the British Medical Association (BMA).
Following a series of strikes, the BMA and the government reached a compromise on the contract in May.
Yesterday, in an industrial ballot, 58 per cent of junior doctors and medical students rejected the deal, prompting the resignation of Johann Malawana, the chair of the BMA’s junior doctors committee.
In parliament this afternoon, Hunt announced that ‘the only realistic way to end this impasse is to proceed with the phased introduction of the exact contract that was negotiated, agreed and supported by the BMA leadership.’
It is unclear what will happen next. Hunt appeared to rule out further negotiations, since talks over the issue have been ongoing for over three years without consensus being reached.
Hunt did concede that, despite having previously threatened imposition, he now believes that ‘the contract negotiated in May is better for junior doctors, and better for the NHS than the original contract we planned to introduce in March.’
He also noted that ‘the decision is not a rejection of the legitimate concerns of many junior doctors about their working conditions’ and said that ‘junior doctors are some of the hardest-working staff in the NHS.’
His commitment to addressing these concerns may reflect the enduring popularity of the doctors’, despite the inconvenience caused to patients.
Shadow Health Secretary Diane Abbott has urged the government to reconsider its decision to impose the contract, arguing that ‘the NHS is only as strong as the morale of its staff’ and that the vote against the contract implied extremely low morale among junior doctors.
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