DAUK will not endorse BMA junior doctor contract deal

 DAUK will not recommend the new junior contract deal to its members

DAUK have now reviewed the Framework Agreement detailing the agreed changes to the 2016 Junior Doctor Contract following the 2019 negotiations between the BMA and the government. Whilst there are several positive changes junior doctors would welcome, we do not believe the overall proposed revision to the rejected 2016 terms and conditions are worthy of our hard working junior doctor members. Therefore, on balance the DAUK committee feel that we cannot endorse this contract.

Full Statement

We are grateful for the efforts of BMA negotiators and representatives who have worked so hard in agreeing this deal with NHS Employers. Indeed, there is much that is welcome in this proposed deal.

The potential benefits to our junior doctor members include:

A minimum of 46 hours rest to follow even a single night shift. Additionally, an enhancement to those with shifts ending between midnight and 4am. DAUK feels that these terms would likely serve to discourage more exploitative and anti-social rota practices.

A reduction in the number of consecutive shifts junior doctors can work to 8 shifts (with the potential to move to 7) over 8 consecutive days. DAUK feels this would be a positive step forward in improving both quality of life for doctors as well as patient safety. However, DAUK are concerned that these terms do not seem to be absolute conditions and that doctors could be pressured by trusts into working additional consecutive shifts.

An enhancement to weekend working supplements for trainees working 1 in 2, 1 in 3 and 1 in 6 weekends. DAUK welcomes this for our members who work intense rotas and anti-social hours with little reward for the disproportionate sacrifices they make in their quality of their life. However, DAUK are disappointed that the most commonly worked unsocial pattern, a 1 in 4, has attracted no uplift.

DAUK also welcomes improvements in rest and safety entitlements and shared parental leave. However, we understand these elements have already been agreed outside if the negotiations, and thus are confused by their inclusion in information about the deal. We would welcome clarification from the BMA on this.

Unfortunately, for almost every gain we have been presented with, we have identified concessions to employers which appear to largely undermine them.

•Alarmingly, DAUK have identified a key cohort of trainees who will be significantly disadvantaged yet again by this deal. Those who were ST3 and above, or on OOPE, in 2016 were disproportionately affected by the imposition of the 2016 contract. This cohort was the first year to miss out on pay protection. This cohort also missed out on the front loading of pay waiting to be transitioned onto the new contract. Now this cohort will miss out on the 5th nodal point as it’s full implementation will be significantly delayed until 2022. Worryingly, this appears to be worse than what was originally negotiated in 2016, which dates implementation of the original senior decision makers’ allowance as October 2019. This cohort of ‘doctors left behind’ will be hit once again at the loss of pension contributions. On DAUK’s modelling, the ‘doctors left behind’ could be up to £18,000 worse off than their colleagues coming up 2 years later. Despite attempts to raise this with the BMA we are astonished that this group was not identified, and now the issue has been raised that there is no mechanism to address the pay disparity, or compensate the ‘doctors left behind’ in the future.

•A tie in to a 2% pay rise is tying doctors into an almost guaranteed pay cut. Junior doctors have been affected by public pay freezes more than any group in the public sector. In the last 10 years junior doctors’ real terms pay has been eroded by over 20%. That means trainees are now paid 10K less per annum in real terms, on average, than their counterparts were 10 years ago. DAUK cannot condone a 4-year pay deal which ignores this, and potentially ties us into explicitly accepting a below-inflation pay rise. DAUK feels strongly that pay should be linked to inflation, preferably RPI vs CPI, in addition to the 2% to start to address the pay erosion we have seen over the last 10 years.

We are disappointed the definition for standard working hours will remain at 7am - 9pm. This was a key red line in the original dispute, and for many will be the reason they opposed the contract. DAUK feels strongly that by definition, working into the evening is anti-social. Evening working contributes significantly to poor work/life balance and costs more in childcare. DAUK therefore feels strongly that standard working hours should be defined as as 7am-7pm.

DAUK also remains concerned that the full contract has not been presented to members, only a Framework Agreement.

DAUK is also concerned regarding the timescale given for members to read all the information presented to them, vote on a deal, and potentially deliver this, all before August 2019. We question why this needs to be the case. Such a bitter and long running dispute deserves to be resolved properly, in however much time that takes. DAUK feels that any political motivation for delivering the contract before August should be firmly rejected and should have no place in getting the right deal for junior doctors.

Additionally DAUK questions the disappointing rhetoric that it is this deal, or no deal. We cannot understand why this is the case and question whether it would be usual practice for a trade union to accept the first deal on the table. DAUK would urge the BMA in the strongest terms to re-approach NHS Employers to renegotiate the terms voted unacceptable to members, until a deal acceptable to all is reached, as is usual practice for a trade union.

We of course would encourage our members to thoroughly read all the information the BMA have made available themselves and ask questions of their union representatives to ensure they are fully informed before voting.

Once again, we would like to thank the negotiating team for their hard work, and reiterate there are several gains in this contract which are a significant improvement from the 2016 contract.

However, in summary, the significant concerns identified in our analysis mean that DAUK are unable to endorse the revised 2016 contract on the basis of the Framework Agreement presented by the BMA.

Press release available on request