After years of strained negotiations Jeremy Hunt has decided to impose his seven day NHS contract on junior doctors against their will.
Ministers decided to impose the new contract after the British Medical Association rejected the ‘best and final’ offer to settle the dispute, he told MP’s today.
It’s no surprise that he received a massive backlash – he ironically announced at the same time that he would review how to improve NHS doctors’ morale, which did not go down well.
BMA reps are now considering ‘all options’, with the possibility of further strikes before their contracts have to be signed in August.
This comes after Andrew Marr presented Hunt with a number of reports from junior doctors last weekend, which were highly critical of him and his plans, causing him to visibly squirm in his seat.
The new contract was announced just four hours after doctor’s second 24-hour walkout over working hours and pay. Shadow Health Secretary Heidi Alexander said this move will bring ‘chaos’.
Alexander also mentioned the Health Secretary’s lack of seven-day spirit when it comes to his own job. She said: “So much for a seven-day health service. A five-day-a-week Health Secretary would be nice.”
Hunt defended his new contract, claiming Labour’s arrangements – which were drawn up in 1999 – were not fit for purpose.
The list of compromises on the contract include raising the basic pay from an 11 per cent rise to a 13.5 per cent rise. Maximum working hours will be reduced and junior doctors will get a 30 per cent pay premium when they work more than one in four Saturdays.
However, ‘plain time’ without any out-of-hours bonus pay will still remain from 7am to 5pm on Saturdays. Currently working Saturdays is seen as ‘anti social’, and the BMA wants it to stay that way.
Many took to Twitter to vent their fury at the government’s decision.
— Billy Hogan (@billyhogan1980) February 11, 2016
The imposition of #juniordoctors contract is despicable but real story is that the contract is part of a systematic destruction of the NHS
— Andy Hearn (@AndyHearn09) February 11, 2016
— Ahmed Rashid (@Dr_A_Rashid) February 11, 2016
— Kevin Fong (@Kevin_Fong) February 11, 2016
Some mocked his suggestion that morale needed looking at among NHS doctors.
— Phil Clarke (@triflemonster) February 11, 2016
— Dan Nethercott (@DanNethercott) February 11, 2016
— The Written Ward (@WrittenWard) February 11, 2016
And a couple really aren’t a fan of Mr Hunt.
Imposing #JuniorDoctors contract proves that homeopathy fan Jeremy Hunt firmly believes the NHS would function best if reduced to 1 doctor.
— David Schneider (@davidschneider) February 11, 2016
— Yossari-asmin (@yasminleighw) February 11, 2016
— The Sun Apologies (@SunApology) February 11, 2016
90 per cent of doctors said they were going to resign if the contract went through. If so, lets hope Jeremy Hunt has a back up plan…