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Junior doctors dispute: Jeremy Hunt offers 11% pay rise

Published 03/11/2015

Junior doctors and their supporters taking part in a march in Newcastle against plans for a new contract
Junior doctors and their supporters taking part in a march in Newcastle against plans for a new contract

Jeremy Hunt is to promise junior doctors an 11% pay rise as he seeks to defuse a bitter confrontation over their working hours.

The health secretary will unveil the hike to basic pay among a series of concessions ahead of a strike ballot later this week.

Making a firm contract offer for the first time in the row over the Government's drive to create a "seven day" NHS, Mr Hunt will insist the deal would mean three quarters of trainee doctors are better off and pay for the rest would be protected.

Although he will stand by plans to stop whole weekends being treated as "antisocial hours", the Government is expected to suggest there would be some extra pay for work on Saturday and Sunday evenings.

The Government hopes the incentives will be enough to convince junior doctors to accept the scrapping of the banding system, which sets earnings based on responsibilities, hours worked and how often they are on call.

Mr Hunt is likely to argue that trainees will bring home the same amount or more due to the 11% rise and supplements such as being on-call, working out of hours, and premiums for areas of medicine where there are staff shortages.

He will also promise the average working week of 48 hours will remain the same - and say the top limit would be brought down from 91 hours to 72.

Mr Hunt will commit to extend flexible pay premiums to more specialities than the areas he had previously highlighted, general practice or A&E care.

Trainees on acute medical wards, where many of the sickest patients end up after being admitted through A&E, and in psychiatry will also be eligible.

The intervention comes as the junior doctors' committee of the British Medical Association (BMA) prepares to ballot its members about their willingness to take industrial action over the busy Christmas period - potentially leading to cancellations of routine operations and clinics.

After a wave of well-attended protests against the changes, trainees have been widely expected to back some kind of withdrawal of labour.

Responding to news of the offer to medics in England, BMA junior doctors committee chair Dr Johann Malawana said: "Junior doctors need facts, not piecemeal announcements and we need to see the full detail of this latest, eleventh hour offer to understand what, in reality, it will mean for junior doctors.

"We have repeatedly asked for such detail in writing from the Secretary of State, but find, instead, that this has been released to media without sharing it with junior doctors' representatives.

"The BMA and junior doctors have been clear that we want to reach a negotiated agreement with the Government on a contract that is good for patients, junior doctors and the NHS.

"In order to do this we have said, repeatedly, that the Government must remove the threat of imposition and provide the concrete assurances junior doctors have asked for on a contract that is safe and fair.

"We are clear that without the assurances we require, the BMA will be left with little option but to continue with our plans to ballot members."

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