Junior NHS doctors vote to accept four-year contract improvements

Junior NHS doctors who are members of the trade union the British Medical Association (BMA) have voted 82% in favour of improvements to their 2016 contract terms.

The vote, which took place on Friday 14 June 2019, was open to all junior doctor BMA members in England, student members in their final or penultimate year of medical school, and junior doctor members in devolved nations who will be working in England from August 2019. At a turnout of 28.2% of the 41,116 eligible individuals, 9,449 voted in favour and 2,139 against the introduction of the new terms.

The new terms will be introduced from August 2019, and will see a £90 million investment across four years, from 1 April 2019 to 31 March 2023, as well as an average pay rise of 2% each year during the same period.

The deal, which was reached between the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health and Social Care, also includes a pay increase of 37% of the employee’s basic hourly rate for night shifts ending between midnight and 4am. In addition, the pay enhancement rate for staff working one in two weekends will now be 15% of their basic salary, while those working one in three weekends will receive 10%. Changes to weekend and night shift pay will come into effect in December 2019.

Among other provisions aiming to address rest and safety issues, junior doctors will work for a maximum of 72 hours within any consecutive 168-hour period, and those working night shifts of 12 hours or more will receive a third paid 30-minute break. The previous requirement of 46 hours of rest following three to four consecutive night shifts will now also be applied to any number of rostered night shifts.

The improved terms will be ratified on 2 July 2019 at a meeting of the Junior Doctors Committee, and will bring to an end the ongoing dispute between the BMA and the government regarding the introduction of new contract terms in 2016.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive at NHS Employers, said: “This deal is a positive one for the NHS, which sees additional investment from the government and NHS England alongside a number of improvements to the junior doctors contract which aim to improve the working lives of junior doctors.

“We are glad that doctors have chosen to support the deal which, as well as a pay uplift, focuses on improving safe working and training. This agreement comes as a result of incredibly hard work on all sides to review and improve the contract, and to build a safe and constructive way forward for this crucial part of our workforce.”

Dr Jeeves Wijesuriya, chair of the BMA Junior Doctors Committee, added: “This vote indicates that junior doctors recognise not only the major victories the BMA has secured, for example enhanced shared parental leave for trainees and extra funding for rest and fatigue facilities around the country, but that through a new collaborative, constructive negotiation process that has learned from the mistakes of the past, we have made major strides towards a better future for all junior doctors.

“There is, of course, a great deal more that needs to be done to improve the wellbeing and working lives of junior doctors, and the Junior Doctors Committee will remain at the forefront of campaigns for a better funded, well-staffed and publicly run health service.”

Matt Hancock, Secretary of State for Health and Social Care, said: “I am delighted that we have successfully brought to an end the junior doctors dispute with this landmark agreement. Junior doctors overwhelmingly backed our multi-year deal, which recognises their dedication to patients and our nation’s health.

“Improved working conditions and an 8.2% four year pay rise will give junior doctors and current medical students the support they fully deserve.”