Six in ten junior doctors have voted to reject the re-negotiated contract offered by the government.
In a referendum run by the British Medical Association (BMA), 58% voted to reject the contract on a turnout of 68%. It is clear that many junior doctors do not think this contract is a sufficient improvement on the old one, and that it will do significant harm to the medical profession and the NHS.
However many who voted to accept the contract also have serious concerns. We must now win them over, and galvanise their support. Yesterday Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that implementation of the contract would continue. The tranistion period for new Foundation Doctors and some other trainees will begin in October.
The BMA Junior Doctors’ Committee met on Wednesday 6 July to discuss the outcome of the referendum, and the way forward. A new chair, Ellen McCourt, was elected to replace Johann Malawana who resigned after the referendum result. The committee agreed it will respond robustly to the Department of Health plans to begin implementing this contract.
In an article in the Guardian after his resignation, Johann Malawana said “A rejection of the contract, with such a high turnout (68%), despite more than 130 roadshows around the country to explain the better terms and conditions, demonstrates just how much the government has mishandled this dispute. In doing so it has damaged its long-term credibility and standing with frontline NHS staff, whose trust it simply cannot afford to lose. There is very little that can be done to build trust with a profession when the government does not seem to have learned the lessons of past mistakes.”
The committee has agreed that all avenues of action are open in order to get a contract that is fair and safe, and will meet again to discuss plans if the government refuses to negotiate.