Jeremy Hunt offers junior doctors 11% pay rise to avert strike


Jeremy Hunt to Offer Junior Doctors 11% Pay Rise

Jeremy Hunt is making a last-ditch effort to win over junior doctors ahead of a strike ballot in the increasingly bitter working hours dispute.

The Health Secretary has written directly to every trainee in England, setting out details of a proposed new contract that would see basic pay rise by 11%.

He insists the deal, part of the Government's push for a "seven day" NHS, would leave three quarters better off. Everyone else would have their pay protected apart from around 1% who are currently working "excessive" hours.

The average working week will still be 48 hours, and the maximum will be reduced from 91 to 72.

Although Mr Hunt is standing by plans to stop the whole weekend being treated as "anti-social hours", he has made a limited concession by offering additional pay after 7pm on Saturdays and Sundays - rather than 10pm as previously mooted.

The Government has also created an online pay calculator in a bid to prove to trainees that they will not suffer under the new system - after criticising one previously produced together by the BMA.

Ministers want to scrap the complicated "banding" system, which builds up earnings based on responsibilities, hours worked and how often they are on call.

But they are proposing to offset those sums with the hike of around 11% in basic salary, together with supplements such as for being on call, working out of hours, and premiums for working in disciplines with staff shortages.

Flexible pay premiums would be applied to more specialities than just general practice and A&E care - acute medical ward staff and psychiatrists benefiting.

Mr Hunt said: "I'm completely committed to the values of the NHS - the same values that encourage aspiring doctors to take up a career in medicine.

"We again make the guarantee that no junior doctor working within the current limits will see a pay cut compared to their current contract.

"As we have consistently said, we will reduce the maximum number of hours that can be worked in any one week and are putting in place better safeguards, meaning the firm offer gives the best protection junior doctors have ever had against working long, unsafe hours.

"Our proposals offer better basic pay with increases based on responsibility instead of time served, a shorter working week and improved patient safety. I appeal to the BMA to do the right thing and come back to the table to negotiate for its members."

The intervention comes as the junior doctors' committee of the British Medical Association (BMA) prepares to ballot its members about industrial action over the busy Christmas period - potentially disrupting key services, routine operations and clinics.

After a wave of well-attended protests against the changes, trainees are widely expected to back some kind of withdrawal of labour.

Responding to news of the offer, BMA junior doctors committee chairman Dr Johann Malawana said: "Junior doctors need facts, not piecemeal announcements and we need to see the full detail of this latest, 11th-hour offer to understand what, in reality, it will mean for junior doctors.

"We have repeatedly asked for such detail in writing from the Secretary of State, but find, instead, that this has been released to media without sharing it with junior doctors' representatives.

"The BMA and junior doctors have been clear that we want to reach a negotiated agreement with the Government on a contract that is good for patients, junior doctors and the NHS.

"In order to do this we have said, repeatedly, that the Government must remove the threat of imposition and provide the concrete assurances junior doctors have asked for on a contract that is safe and fair.

"We are clear that without the assurances we require, the BMA will be left with little option but to continue with our plans to ballot members."