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RCOG statement: Junior doctor contract referendum

News 27 June 2016

Last week, NHS Employers released the final terms and conditions of service for junior doctors in England. The BMA have held over 120 roadshows across England from 6 to 17 June to talk to junior doctors and final or penultimate year medical students about the new contract. Junior doctors now have until 1 July to vote on whether they will accept this contract, with the result expected to be announced on 6 July.

Dr David Richmond, President of the Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists, said:

“It has taken an enormous amount of time and energy to get to this point in the negotiation and both sides are to be congratulated for their herculean efforts to reach an agreement.

“The decision on which way obstetrics and gynaecology trainees should vote is an individual one. While the final offer may not be perfect, I believe it is reasonable. What is more important is the realisation that the long running dispute was more a final eruption of anger and disillusion with the place of junior doctors within the health service. Increasingly used as workhorses, without due regard for their work-life balance, their families and their need for training, morale had reached such a low ebb that action was inevitable.

“I feel we are now at a turning point in the position and relationship the profession has with government and society at large. The issues this College has already highlighted around rota gaps and the difficulties of ensuring a full service provision are not going to be resolved by this contract alone and further debate about funding and workforce issues is urgently needed. As leaders of the profession, we also plan to address some of these issues in our Safer Women’s Healthcare report due to be published later this year.

“Additionally, while it will take time to understand what exit from the European Union will mean for all for us, it’s important to remember we could not provide care to our patients without our colleagues from the EU and further afield. We offer our strongest support to those medical graduates, trainees and consultants working in O&G across the UK, and will continue to value their essential input in these uncertain times.”

Dr Matthew Prior, Chair of the RCOG’s Trainees committee, said:

“The junior doctor contract dispute has taken up a lot of our time and energy over the past year. In my view the original contract was unsafe and unfair. Nonetheless, there must be resolution to all conflicts and both sides have now made reasonable concessions. Although it could be better, I believe the new contract has a lot of positives that are worth consideration. For example salaries will be front loaded to protect those who take time out of training for maternity leave or out of program, which is very important in our specialty. An exception reporting system will also identify when there are issues relating to training, including when training opportunities are missed.

“The next steps will be to ensure that this new contract works in practice to benefit trainees, training and ultimately patients.”

Ends

For media enquiries please contact the RCOG press office on 020 7772 6375 or email pressoffice@rcog.org.uk