Social Media

Thursday, 11 February 2016

'Shock and dismay' at Hunt decision to impose new deal on junior doctors

Written by The Press Association

The head of the Royal College of GPs has said she is "shocked and dismayed" by the imposition of a new contract on junior doctors.

Dr Maureen Baker, chairwoman of the college, said the move would damage morale in the NHS and left doctors feeling like they could not provide safe care.

She said: "We are shocked and dismayed at the Government's decision to impose a contract on our dedicated and committed junior doctors.

"Imposing a deal on junior doctors is wrong-headed, will inevitably damage morale across the NHS - and may damage patient care.

"We had hoped that ministers would ensure an agreement could be reached in a professional and amicable way, so that the two sides could bridge their differences in a constructive manner.

"We would ask whether the Government has carried out a structured and robust risk assessment, along with measures to evaluate the impact of their decision on patient safety.

"If it has, we would urge ministers to publish the full results forthwith.

"The last few months have been incredibly tough for junior doctors, and have led to the lowest morale across our profession in a generation. Imposing a contract, in its current form, is asking junior doctors - the future of our NHS - to work under conditions in which they neither feel valued nor able to deliver safe patient care.

"The imposition of the contract will undoubtedly impair our efforts to recruit thousands of additional doctors into the NHS over the coming years in order to keep the health service sustainable - as many medical students are seeing this turmoil, not liking what they see, and turning away from medicine in the UK altogether."

Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said: "We are very concerned that imposition of a national contract on 45,000 employees is disproportionate and will lead to further demoralisation which could be irreparable for a generation.

"Many junior doctors are already looking at jobs abroad or at alternative jobs in academia or the private sector.

"The losers are certainly the doctors, but more importantly, patients. Doctors and other NHS staff repeatedly 'go the extra mile' for patients by working well beyond their contracted hours of work. This could become a thing of the past due to the high-handed way they have been treated.

"Jeremy Hunt has adopted a very macho posture and thinks he is re-running the Tory onslaught against the miners in the 1980s - junior doctors are not 'the enemy within' and the Secretary of State should not use this portrayal.

"Imposition of this contract has been branded by many HR directors as 'the nuclear option'. Improving the service to patients is the last thing it will achieve."

Unison general secretary Dave Prentis said: "This is a cynical move by Jeremy Hunt and a disaster for NHS industrial relations. It's proof the Government regards the views of hardworking NHS staff as worthless.

"How can our health service face the massive challenges ahead when staff feel they're being constantly undermined? When the value of their jobs is reduced by Government decree, and their pay and working conditions are under attack?

"Jeremy Hunt's mishandling of the junior doctors dispute has undone decades of consensus in the NHS. Unions can't have faith in any future negotiations if ministers just choose to impose what they want, when they want."

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: "I am saddened and hugely frustrated that an agreed deal has not been reached with the BMA. The NHS needs certainty on this contract and a continuation of a dispute would be harmful to patients, and the NHS. Over the last four years significant progress has been made to address concerns around safe working. I believe the new offer is fair and safe for doctors, and patients."

Jon Skewes, director for communications, policy and employment relations at the Royal College of Midwives (RCM), said: "Imposing contracts without further negotiation will further sever the little trust left between Jeremy Hunt and hardworking healthcare staff.

"Both junior doctors and midwives already provide seven day services, day and night, 365 days a year. Today's announcement is further proof that the Government is failing to listen to the concerns of NHS frontline staff. Imposing a contract on junior doctors in this manner is likely to damage morale further and is an attack on all NHS staff."

Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: "The RCP continues to give its unwavering support to our trainees during this difficult time. We are deeply disappointed that the Government and the BMA have been unable to reach an agreement over the junior doctors' contract, and that the Secretary of State has decided to impose the contract from August 1.

"The imposition of the contract is likely to damage junior doctors' morale even further, and do nothing for patient care, at a time when we most need to value, support and motivate our trainees."

The Royal College of Psychiatrists said it regretted "the imposition of a new contract at a time when real progress had been made. Our priority is to support safe, timely and effective care and treatment for patients and this can only be delivered by well trained, supported and supervised staff and in particular frontline junior doctors.

"We continue to support our talented, committed and dedicated junior doctors who deliver high quality care in challenging circumstances and have shown great integrity during the negotiations.

"We are concerned that imposition of a contract will exacerbate recruitment and retention issues currently experienced in the NHS, an area that needs greater focus and attention. Patients recognise that junior doctors are fundamental to excellent care, and we need to make sure they feel valued and supported."

Copyright (c) Press Association Ltd. 2016, All Rights Reserved. Picture (c) PA Wire.