The BMA (British Medical Association) originally began the negotiations regarding the junior doctor contract in 2013 with the aim to ensure the safety of doctors and patients in hospitals. The BMA wished to ensure that junior doctors were rewarded for all of the hours they work. These hours include coming into hospitals early in order to review notes from the night staff and to prepare for the day in terms of patient files. At the start and end of each day, medical personnel often spent over an extra hour at work ensuring that the hospital runs efficiently, but this overtime was rarely formally recognised.
At the forefront of the negotiations was pay.
At first, junior doctors are paid a standard salary based on working 40 hours a week. However, if you spent over 40 hours in the hospital, as many doctors do you would be given a pay band. A pay band is a ‘pro rata percentage of basic salary’. For example, if a doctor worked for 48 hours they would receive a pay band of 20%.
Furthermore, if a doctor works outside the social hours: Monday to Friday, 7am to 7pm. However, this banding means that doctors working a varying number of unsocial hours may be paid the same.
Under the new model, junior doctors would be paid differently:
- An average increase in basic pay increase of 10-11%
- Enhanced pay for nights.
- A pay supplement for weekend working.
However, pay is not the only issue surrounding the need for change.
The maximum number of working hours at the moment for junior doctors is 91 hours a new proposal suggest that this should be cut down to 72 hours; a doctor can only work 4 consecutive nights in a row rather than 7.The basic starting salary is also planned to be raised to £27,000 rather than £22, 636 . In addition the average basic salary will experience an increase of 13.5 per cent.
The over-time compensation is also set to change:
- Doctors receive time plus 30 per cent for any hours worked between 5pm-9pm on Saturday and 7am-9pm on Sunday
- Doctors working one in four Saturdays or more will receive a pay premium of 30 per cent for all Saturday hours
- Doctors receive time and a half for any hours worked Monday – Sunday between 9pm – 7am
The outrage towards the treatment of junior doctors has led to a series of strikes throughout England. Despite the obvious need for a strike, to address concerns surrounding the treatment of the people who work to ensure that we, as patients receive the best healthcare, many are opposed to strikes. One reason why people oppose strikes is due to the obvious need for junior doctors in hospitals. Not having junior doctors in hospitals has and will prove to be catastrophic in most hospitals in England. Junior doctors keep hospitals running efficiently, so their absence will work to get people to pay attention to what they are working towards.
Many doctors support striking, however some experience an ethical dilemma, between patient care and ensuring that doctors are heard. Many are uncomfortable with leaving patients, however there has to be change in the system in place. Unfortunately, this need for change may only be taken seriously, with the use of strikes.