Junior Doctor Strikes back on as contract talks collapse

Letter to the profession from the BMA Chair

………the BMA re-entered talks with NHS Employers and the Department of Health in December around the junior doctors’ contract dispute. Following receipt of the government’s final offer, those talks ended this afternoon and, regrettably, without the significant progress we were seeking. As a result, junior doctors in England will be taking industrial action for the first time in 40 years.

We have done our utmost to avert this situation. We entered talks in good faith, talks which only came about following our invitation to involve Acas. We came prepared to negotiate in the best interests of the profession and of patients. Sadly that intention does not appear to be shared by the government

Our message to the government could not have been clearer, yet they have chosen to misinterpret and misconstrue our intentions. Fairness, safety and quality have always been at the heart of the argument. We returned to talks with an open mind and a hope that, at last, the government would recognise the contract talks for what they always could have been – a once-in-a-decade opportunity to improve patient care.

It is an opportunity which the government has spurned. And it has done nothing to rebuild the trust it has squandered with the medical profession

No junior doctor wants to cause disruption to their patients. But sometimes, there are no good choices, just choices that are less harmful than others.

The greatest harm would come from accepting a contract that undermines the quality of patient care and the safety of doctors. The action the junior doctors are taking is for all doctors, and for all of our patients.

Mark Porter

BMA council chair

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