Planned Cuts To Junior Doctor Salaries

The time is fast appraoching when the NHS may have to deal with a mass walkout of it's substantive junior doctors, due to the ongoing concerns relating to the new NHS contracts being offered.  The new contracts may see Junior doctors current pay reduced by up to a third which is understandably a worrying prospect. 

The British Medical Association (BMA) have scheduled an emergency meeting in order to decide what action to recommend, after ministers said a new deal will be imposed on thousands of trainees next August. 

Under current proposals, trainees would lose pay boosts they receive for working evenings and Saturdays, which will be treated as regular hours. Other pay supplements could be axed from some specialities. 

The rows follow a Government pledge to ensure the NHS offers a “proper 7 day service” with more doctors working weekends. 

Talks are ongoing about a deal for consultants. But the BMA’s junior doctors committee - which walked out of talks this summer - will meet on Saturday to discuss its plans to attempt to block their deal. 

It comes amid growing fury from junior doctors, who say the new terms could reduce pay by up to one third for GP trainees, and between 10 to 20 per cent for some trainees in other specialties. 

Kitty Mohan, co-chairman of the BMA junior doctors committee, said: “I have never seen this level of anger before. Members will think very hard about whether they would take industrial action as a doctor, but they are deeply angry and upset about this. 

“They want to use every weapon in the armoury to stop grossly unfair changes being imposed.” 

Thousands of junior doctors have taken to social media in recent days expressing anger about the deal, with a petition calling for strike action gathering 33,000 signatures. 

Dr Mohan said the BMA abandoned talks in July because it was unable to secure concrete commitments on key points of contention, including how to ensure junior doctors did not end up working excess hours. 

Government negotiators have now written to all 38,000 junior doctors pleading with them to attend “open meetings” to discuss their concerns, in the absence of talks with unions. 

Under current contracts trainees have a starting salary of £22,636, rising with experience, to reach £30,000 within four years. 

But earnings are boosted by a complex system of supplements. 

While hospital doctors can earn extra for work “out of hours” GP trainees receive annual supplements of around £15,000 on top of basic pay, boosting pay by one third.  The current proposals would axe such payments. 

Health officials insist that overall, the changes would be “cost neutral” with doctors receiving an increase in basic pay, though individuals could gain or lose financially, depending on their rotas. 

Under existing rules, 7am to 7pm Monday to Fridays are treated as “plain time” with pay supplements according to the numbers of hours worked beyond such times.  The proposed changes will see regular time extended to 10pm and include Saturdays. 

Many junior doctors have said they think it is not fair to pay the same rates to be in work on Saturday evenings as they would receive for working during the day during the week. 

Dr Mohan said: “These are people leaving medical school in their mid-20s, with unprecedented levels of debt and on a starting salary of £22,000. We keep hearing there will be winners and losers but it’s very hard to find people who will win.” 

NHS Employers, which is negotiating on behalf of the Government, said the current proposals were not a final deal. 

Officials said they were keen to discuss concerns directly with junior doctors, and ensure that the final proposals that were fair . 

Danny Mortimer, NHS Employers chief executive said: “We have no interest here in bringing in a contract that seems unfair to junior doctors – we want to come up with a deal which is better than what is currently in place.” 

Both the Scottish and Welsh governments have issued statements pledging to retain the current contracts in place.  

Posted on Friday Oct 9