Concessions made by the health secretary, Jeremy Hunt, in the continuing discussions over a new employment contract for junior doctors, do not appear to have removed the risk of strike action. In a reply to Hunt’s letter to the British Medical Association (BMA) last week, in which he promised junior doctors would not have to work longer hours for less pay, over 2,000 students and medics made it clear that they did not think this was enough.
While the health secretary’s promises of a new contract that will ensure juniors doctors are not exploited or overworked were welcomed, the medics added that “we remain perplexed, that the government’s proposals will remove vital safeguards that penalise trusts for overworking doctors”.
Under the current contract hospitals are forced to pay a doctor significantly more when they have worked over 48 hours in a week.
In response to the proposals there has been a large increase in doctors opting to join the British Medical Association. The BMA has suggested that it might call strike action in response to the contract and new members will be able to vote for such action. In light of the health secretary’s concessions, the BMA will now have to decide whether to press ahead with industrial action.