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Junior doctor contracts

Dr David Richmond and Dr Matthew Prior write to Trainees, Fellows and Members on junior doctors’ industrial action...

You have voted unanimously (99.4% of a 76% turn out) to take industrial action in December. The British Medical Association now has a clear mandate to use at the negotiating table.

Since the College published its statement on the contract dispute in September, we have continued to be contacted by trainees, members and senior colleagues expressing concerns about the impact the imposition of the proposed contract will have on not just your careers and family lives, but on medical students who are our trainees of tomorrow.

We understand that you feel disheartened and undervalued, and there is the risk that young doctors will be discouraged from entering the specialty or becoming doctors altogether. Compounded with gaps in the trainee rotas due to time out for research, flexible working or maternity leave, this will result in significant recruitment difficulties and our ability to provide a safe service for women and their babies.

Along with other Royal Colleges we have made clear our concerns to the Government about these contract proposals and continue to speak with a united voice. We value our trainees immensely and our support for you is unequivocal.

As you will be aware, the role of this College is to educate and train doctors in O&G, to improve standards of women’s health and to ensure high-quality care and patient safety. Although we don’t have a remit to discuss terms and conditions of employment, we do have a role to play in ensuring our doctors are recruited, retained and developed so they can deliver high-quality and safe women’s health care.

We are of course disappointed that negotiations have reached an impasse and there is now a clear timetable for industrial action. We also recognise it is the right of any individual doctor to take industrial action within the guidelines set out by the General Medical Council.

You have spoken and the strength of feeling is overwhelming. For the sake of our patients and your own futures we urge both sides to return to the negotiating table, with appropriate mediation, so an agreement can be reached.