It seems Jeremy Hunt blinked in the end.
The proposed new contract – which must still be agreed by junior doctors in a referendum in the latter half of June – is being touted as addressing their main concerns.
The sexism in the original seems to have been ironed out, with provision for equality and opportunities for carers.
And there seems to be an effort to ensure safe working conditions.
But the “recognition of junior doctors’ work and contribution across every day of the week” seems woolly, and there’s no mention of pay levels or working hours in the BMA’s press release.
And will Jeremy Hunt start recruiting to ensure staff numbers increase to a level that can cope with his proposed seven-day NHS – which creates a demand for more doctors than are employed in the current seven-day NHS?
The jury has to be still out on this – although the support shown by the BMA is extremely encouraging.
The BMA today reached an agreement with the Government on a new contract for junior doctors in England.
More than a week of intensive and constructive talks followed a prolonged dispute, which has seen five periods of industrial action.
BMA junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana (pictured above) said: ‘I believe that what has been agreed today is a good deal for junior doctors and will ensure that they can continue to deliver high-quality care for patients.’
The key improvements for junior doctors are:
- Recognition of junior doctors’ work and contribution across every day of the week
- Proper consideration of and provision for equality in the contract, including the chance for accelerated training for those who take time out for caring responsibilities
- Improved flexible pay premia for specialties such as emergency medicine and psychiatry to address the current recruitment and retention crisis in these areas
- More rigorous oversight of the new guardian role to ensure safe working for junior doctors.
The agreement forms the basis of a new contract which will be published by 31 May.
Dr Malawana said: ‘Junior doctors have always wanted to agree a safe and fair contract, one that recognises and values the contribution junior doctors make to the NHS, addresses the recruitment and retention crisis in parts of the NHS and provides the basis for delivering a world-class health service.
‘I believe that what has been agreed today delivers on these principles, is a good deal for junior doctors and will ensure that they can continue to deliver high-quality care for patients.
‘I also believe this represents the best and final way of resolving the dispute and this is what I will be saying to junior doctors in the weeks leading up to the referendum on the new contract.’
There will now be roadshows to explain the new contract next month, followed by a member referendum between 17 June and 1 July.
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