Sent: 30 November 2015 19:27
Subject: Junior doctors' industrial action suspended
Dear Dr Giovannoni,
Following conciliatory talks with NHS Employers and the Department of Health, we have agreed to suspend industrial action in England, which was due to begin at 8am tomorrow. The Government has also agreed not to proceed unilaterally with the introduction of a new contract.
Full statement from Acas:
Agreement between BMA, DH and NHS Employers 30 November 2015
Following productive talks under the auspices of ACAS, the BMA, NHS Employers and the Department of Health are all agreed that a return to direct and meaningful negotiations in relation to a new contract for junior doctors is the right way forward. We intend to reach a collaborative agreement, working in partnership to produce a new contract for junior doctors, recognising their central role in patient care and the future of the NHS.
All parties are committed to reaching an agreement that improves safety for patients and doctors and therefore NHS Employers have agreed to extend the timeframe for the BMA to commence any industrial action by four weeks to 13 January 2016 at 17:00, to allow negotiations to progress. Within that timetable, the BMA agrees to temporarily suspend its proposed strike action and the Department of Health agrees similarly to temporarily suspend implementation of a contract without agreement.
All parties acknowledge that they share responsibility for the safety of patients and junior doctors, which must be paramount. In reaching this agreement to return to negotiations the BMA acknowledge the wish of NHS Employers and the Department of Health to agree and implement a new contract without undue delay. All sides wish to achieve a contractual framework that provides fair reward and a safe working environment for junior doctors throughout the week.
Note: for the purposes of this agreement, NHS Employers is acting on behalf of all employers of junior doctors.
Memorandum of understanding
This memorandum sets out the basis on which the parties will progress the agreement to return to negotiation reached on 30 November 2015.
We acknowledge the commitment of the BMA, NHS Employers and DH to the centrality of junior doctors in the current and future NHS, to recognise their dedication to patients and the NHS, and to provide a safe and supportive environment and fair reward.
The parties support the commitment to patients to ensure that the quality of care and patient outcomes (including appropriately adjusted mortality rates) are the same every day of the week. In that context we recognise the commitment of the government to work with the medical profession and other staff groups in partnership to improve access to seven day services. The parties recognise that junior doctors currently make a significant contribution across seven days, that urgent and emergency care is the priority for such services and that any new contract would support these aims
All parties acknowledge the crucial role of doctors in training across the NHS in providing safe patient care and the need to properly recognise that contribution not only through terms and conditions but also by reaffirming the commitment to a high-quality training experience, the very best working environment and appropriate work-life balance.
The current cost-neutral November 2015 offer is the basis for further negotiation, and the BMA, NHS Employers and DH have agreed to work collaboratively to develop and oversee new contractual terms and conditions of service for junior doctors.
Contractual safeguards for safety are paramount and we therefore commit to develop a jointly selected and supported guardian role to oversee the hours of work of doctors in training and ensuring appropriate payment for hours worked outside planned work schedules.
A commitment is also made to define propositions on work schedules, including the number of hours designated as plain time ensuring that doctors in training would not be expected to work consecutive weekends, and how time for administrative duties and training should be recognized.
Our discussions will also address access to flexible training (through joint work between HEE, BMA and NHS Employers), taking into account the changing demographic of the medical workforce, as well as developing further our shared commitment to ensuring that the training and working environment for junior doctors is improved (including addressing issues of fixed leave, study leave, notice of deployment and duty rosters, access to rest and refreshment facilities).
Collaborative work on pay will include an 'open-book' approach to the November 2015 pay calculator and supporting data and models, including cost-neutrality and equality impact, helping ensure clear systems for pay progression and managing transition. This agreement also recognises the need to work in partnership with HEE and where relevant the medical royal colleges to improve the training experience for junior doctors, including improving access to flexible working and enabling the transition to a fully competency-based approach to support junior doctors to progress through their training.
Today's decision is in the best interests of patients, doctors and the NHS. It is unfortunate that we have not been able to reach agreement sooner but patients, doctors and everyone else who works across the NHS will be pleased that in the end the right decision has been made.
A return to genuine negotiations is clearly preferable to the imposition of a new contract or industrial action and provides us with the best opportunity to deliver a contract for junior doctors which recognises the central role they play in delivering patient care across the NHS.
Industrial action will now be suspended throughout December. In January, the parties will decide whether meaningful progress is being made. At that point, we will need to consider whether industrial action should be reinstated.
The coming weeks will be challenging, but it is vital that we do all we can to come to a negotiated agreement. I know that you will continue to support us in this, as you have over the past few months.
We are one profession. We stand together.
BMA council chair