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Concerns over the current proposals for doctors in training are widely felt among the more experienced members of our association, who recognise the years of training, steadfastness and sacrifice it takes to become a fully-fledged consultant.
The dispute centres predominantly on the extension of normal hours from 7am-7pm Monday to Friday to 7am-10pm Monday to Saturday – although the government has recently sent signals about a concession on Saturday hours – and changes to pay which junior doctors fear will end financial penalties that currently act to discourage employers from rostering them in an unsafe way.
As the government maintains that increases to basic pay rates will be cost neutral, trainees in some specialties will undoubtedly face cuts – at a time when individuals’ average debts following basic training stand close to £100,000.
Because of the extended hours, those who work part-time and juggle a family caring role are likely to face an increasingly difficult choice over whether to stay.
The HCSA recognises that these issues will also have a knock-on impact on consultants and is determined in its support for our junior doctor members, and those who are not yet members.
The imposition of any proposals is unacceptable. In the case of doctors in training, as with the consultants’ contract, the red lines are clear.
An acceptable outcome would balance safety, fairness and work-life balance, and ensure that recruitment, retention, and fair reward for innovation are taken into account.
Negotiation, not imposition, is an essential step on the road to an outcome that delivers.
Not all consultants will support the concept of strike action by doctors in training, but most will see the justice in their campaign – and recognise its resonance given the threat of similar proposed changes to their own contracts.
The HCSA has issued a position statement backing A Fair Deal for Doctors in Training. It calls for:
NEGOTIATION NOT IMPOSITIONThe HCSA wholeheartedly opposes any imposition of contracts on junior doctors – or any other group of NHS workers for that matter. As a TUC-affiliated union we believe in the principles of negotiation at all times.
SAFETYSafeguards to protect doctors in training from overwork, excessive hours or staff shortages, and to deliver high-quality care to patients at all times, night and day.
FAIRNESSA pay and career structure that retains the new generation of doctors our world-class health system demands and attracts new and enthuiastic recruits into the profession.
WORK-LIFE BALANCERecognition that doctors in training, like all NHS employees, are not superhuman, nor should they be expected to sacrifice the basics of family life.
A GOOD DEAL FOR OUR NHSWe need well rested, highly trained, fairly rewarded doctors to deliver the best and safest patient care possible, around the clock. The government needs to value the role that doctors in training provide.
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© Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association 2019
HCSA - the Hospital Doctors' Union is a professional association and trade union affiliated to the Trades Union Congress.