Junior doctors could be set to strike over contract row

Dr Kate Granger. Photo: James Hardisty.
Dr Kate Granger. Photo: James Hardisty.
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JUNIOR DOCTORS are to be balloted on industrial action next month in a row with the Government over contracts, the British Medical Association (BMA) has said.

The union said it had not taken the decision “lightly” after negotiations broke down.

Junior doctors across England will be balloted for industrial action - which could include strikes - from Thursday November 5 to November 18.

Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chairman, said: “The Government’s refusal to work with us through genuine negotiations and their threat to impose new contracts that we believe are unsafe for patients and unfair for doctors, leaves us with few options.” Earlier this week Leeds junior doctor Kate Granger, who has terminal cancer, wrote an open letter to Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt warning the plans could spark an “exodus” of junior talent. A demonstration is taking place in Victoria Gardens, Leeds, on Wednesday next week.

The Government has said it plans to impose a new contract on junior doctors, up to consultant level, next summer. The contract will reclassify doctors’ normal working week to include Saturdays and up to 10pm every night of the week except Sunday. Medics argue they will lose out financially as evenings and Saturdays will be paid at the standard rate rather than a higher rate. They say this could amount to a 30 per cent cut.

During Prime Minister’s questions David Cameron tried to reassure junior doctors. He said: “The plans we have are not for increasing junior doctor hours. They are not for cutting junior doctor pay. They are not even for making savings in the overall amount that junior doctors receive. It’s about making sure the health service works better for doctors but above all for patients.”