If you want a damning indictment of the flagrant disregard the Government has for the public, and for the “e-petitions” system it operates – look no further than the dismissal of the “Consider a vote of No Confidence in Jeremy Hunt, Health Secretary” appeal.
328,765 signatures later and overwhelming support from the public for the actions of the Junior Doctors – and the shambolic and incompetent handling of the NHS by the Health Secretary is still allowed to continue, without recourse.
The official response below outlines just how removed and entrenched in its position the Government is; furthermore it demonstrates the continued manipulation of the situation and facts in relation to the Junior Doctor’s contract.
It ignores the fact that nowhere in any recommendations does it say that increased numbers of Junior Doctors working at weekends is necessary for this proposed “7-day NHS” – it was Consultants, in fact, with whom the review bodies said flexibility was needed, and Junior Doctor’s already work weekends. Not that you’d know from the constant propaganda we are force-fed.
It claims an extra £10bn is being invested in the NHS. This is the Conservatives manifesto commitment, and has nothing to do with its proposed “7-day NHS” – which in fact, according to a leaked report from the Department of Health, NHS England and Deloitte, will cost an additional £900m a year on top of this £10bn.
It ignores evidence as well from the Department of Health which states they “cannot evidence the mechanism by which increased consultant presence and diagnostic tests at weekends will translate into lower mortality and reduced length of stay” and that it may put additional strain on community and social services.
The gross misrepresentation by the Government of what the Junior Doctors’ contract dispute is about continues in this statement below – and is utilised as nothing more than a political point-scoring device, openly denouncing the BMA and its actions during the course of this process.
It shows that the Government continue to manipulate the situation, the evidence, the recommendations and the public for, what is essentially, a measure which (it hopes) will eventually lead to the privatisation of our health service.
The Junior Doctor’s contract dispute is being debated in Parliament on Monday. Contact your MP – and tell them you want them to be there, as the response below is wholly inadequate, and epitomises the petulant and ivory-towered stance that the Government, and moreover Jeremy Hunt, is taking on this situation.
The full text from the Government is below.
“The latest staff survey showed NHS staff engagement is at a 5 year high. We will continue to invest in and support NHS staff to help deliver safe, high quality patient care every day of the week.
We know NHS staff work incredibly hard to provide outstanding patient care around the clock. Patient safety is the absolute priority for NHS staff and the Government. That is why our manifesto committed to improve patient care across 7 days of the week, with a particular focus on emergency and urgent care at weekends. The current medical contracts were drawn up in the early 2000s, and there is widespread consensus that they now require reform, partly in order to support improvements in urgent and emergency weekend care through more modern and flexible contractual arrangements. We have been trying for 4 years to agree the necessary changes with the doctors’ trade union, the BMA. Sadly, despite undertaking 3 independent processes to try to reach a negotiated solution, it has not been possible. The contract we are therefore introducing was recommended by one of the NHS’ most successful and respected Chief Executives, Sir David Dalton. He was commissioned at the end of 2015 to lead negotiations on behalf of the NHS with authority to compromise on every issue under discussion. He successfully reached agreement with the BMA on approximately 90% of issues on the table, leaving the final unresolved issue of Saturday pay rates. The process Sir David undertook followed 2 previous independent processes. Last July the DDDRB published recommendations following representations from both sides. The BMA refused even to discuss their recommendations and balloted for strike action on the back of them. Last December the Government and NHS entered detailed discussions with the BMA through ACAS and agreed Heads of Terms to achieve a negotiated solution. Unfortunately, despite agreeing to discuss Saturday pay rates, the BMA reneged and refused to contemplate any compromise on this issue. Sir David advised that a negotiated solution to the outstanding contractual issues was impossible. He also advised that the health service now needs certainty, and as such the Government decided that the only plausible option was to press ahead with the introduction of new contracts. Changes will not be imposed on staff who currently have a contract of employment, but new terms will be offered as juniors enter or move through training and onto new contracts as current contracts expire. This is simply exercising a right that employers have when unable to reach agreement on changes with trade unions. It would not be practical or democratic to allow any trade union to exercise a veto over reforms that support the delivery of the elected Government’s manifesto commitments. The new contract is safer for patients and fairer for doctors. Tired doctors risk patient safety, so in the new contract the maximum number of hours that can be worked in one week will be reduced from 91 to 72; the maximum consecutive nights will be reduced from 7 to 4; the maximum consecutive long days will be reduced from 7 to 5; and no doctor will ever be required to be rostered consecutive weekends. We will also introduce a new ‘Guardian’ role within every Trust with the authority to impose fines for breaches to agreed working hours. These fines will be invested in educational resources and facilities for trainees.
The new contract will give additional pay to those working Saturday evenings from 5pm, nights from 9pm to 7am, and all day on Sunday. Plain time hours will now be extended from 7am to 5pm on Saturdays. However, the government was willing to be flexible on Saturday premium pay and we have been: those working 1 in 4 or more Saturdays will receive a pay premium of 30%, higher on average than that available to nurses, midwives, paramedics and most other clinical staff. It is also a higher premium than that available to fire officers, police officers or those in many other walks of life. None the less it does represent a reduction compared to current rates, necessary to ensure hospitals can afford additional weekend rostering. So because we do not want take home pay to go down for junior doctors, these changes will allow an increase of 13.5%. Three quarters of doctors will see a take home pay rise and no trainee working within contracted hours will have their pay cut.
We recognise the negotiation process has uncovered some wider and more deep-seated issues relating to junior doctors’ wellbeing and quality of life that need to be addressed. These issues include inflexibility around leave, lack of notice about placements that can be a long way away from home, separation from spouses and families, and sometimes inadequate support from employers, professional bodies and senior clinicians. The Government has therefore asked Prof. Dame Sue Bailey, President of the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges to lead a review of measures outside the contract to improve morale of junior doctors. The Government has committed an extra £10billion to the NHS this Parliament, but with that extra funding must come reform to deliver safer services for patients across all 7 days of the week.”