Socialist Worker

Junior doctors must reject Jeremy Hunt’s toxic contract

by Tomáš Tengely-Evans
Issue No. 2506

Striking junior doctors on their “full walkout” last month

Striking junior doctors on their “full walkout” last month (Pic: Chris James)


The British Medical Association’s (BMA) junior doctors’ committee was due to meet on Friday after details of their new contract were released.

The BMA is holding a “referendum” from 17 June to 1 July on a deal it cobbled together with Tory health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Hunt was forced to make changes after imposing the dangerous new contract in February.

That was a sign of the pressure junior doctors had put on him—pressure built through eight solid strikes.

Junior doctors have the power to force Hunt to dump the toxic contract. The junior doctors’ committee should recommend that BMA members reject the deal.

The contract’s terms and conditions confirm that although Hunt has made some concessions, this deal is not acceptable.

Hunt’s aim is to break the junior doctors’ momentum, slash other health workers’ unsocial hours pay and push through more privatisation.

He claims the new contract is essential to bring in “seven day working” in the NHS to improve patient safety.

In reality the NHS already provides emergency services 24/7 and health workers work long hours, including nights and weekends.

Hunt wanted to make Saturday a regular work day and scrap financial penalties on bosses who overwork doctors.

This deal makes Saturdays and Sundays ordinary working days and reduces extra night shift pay from 50 percent to 37 percent.

It replaces penalties for overworking doctors with a weaker “guardian role”.

Junior doctors working less than one weekend in eight would only be paid normal pay rates and those working up to one in two will receive between 3 and 10 percent.

The Tories have said that it reduces the cost of weekend working by one third.

Reducing the proportion of pay that junior doctors receive from unsocial hours will not discourage them from working large amounts of unsocial hours and it certainly won’t protect patient safety.

While many junior doctors are frustrated with the deal, no one is yet organising this anger.

If the junior doctors’ committee backs or remains neutral on it, left wingers on the committee should still lead a campaign of rejection.

Escalating strikes can still beat back Jeremy Hunt’s attacks.


Back the student bursary demo

Health care students fighting to save their bursaries were set to march through central London this Saturday.

Jenny Leow is part of the Bursary or Bust campaign at London South Bank University.

“Scrapping the NHS bursary won’t just mean fewer workers,” she said. “It will mean fewer women, BME groups and working class people will be able to study.

“Part of being a health worker is empathy with your patients—how can you do that if the workforce doesn’t reflect the people we’re caring for?”

The march can be a focus for anger against Tory austerity.

March—Sat 4 June, 1pm, St Thomas’ Hospital, London, SE1 7EH.
Details at bit.ly/1OrizUP

If you enjoy Socialist Worker, please consider giving to our annual appeal to make sure we can maintain and develop our online and print versions of Socialist Worker. Go here for details and to donate.

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.