Junior doctor contract to protect pay of trainees switching to general practice

Doctors who switch to general practice from other medical specialty training programmes will have their pay protected under the new junior doctor contract as long as GPs remain in short supply, NHS Employers has confirmed.

GP leaders have been calling for clarification over the impact of the new contract, set to be imposed from April, over fears it would put junior doctors off switching between specialties because they would be forced to return to the start of the pay scale.

But a senior NHS Employers official has confirmed that pay protection will be offered for trainees switching to shortage specialties.

GP leaders have called for a permanent pay protection mechanism to offer doctors considering a move to general practice the financial security they need.

Meanwhile, junior doctor strikes will resume on Wednesday this week after health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced that the new contract put forward by the government would be imposed because negotiations with the BMA had failed. Three 48-hour strikes are planned for dates in March and April.

Junior doctor strikes

Details of precisely how payment protection for doctors who move between specialty training programmes will be applied have yet to be confirmed, but NHS Employers has said it will publish full terms and conditions once these are finalised.

NHS Employers director of employment relations and reward Paul Wallace said: 'The proposed new pay system is based on nodal pay points and levels of responsibility in the role.

'However, the proposed contract will allow for pay protection arrangements for doctors moving from one training programme (or from a nationally recognised career grade post - eg consultant, specialty doctor) into a different training programme where that programme is formally designated as being a "hard to fill’ programme. For 2016, these are general practice, psychiatry and higher training in emergency medicine.'

GPC deputy chairman Dr Richard Vautrey told GPonline: 'That gives some degree of reassurance, but doesn’t provide the guarantees GP trainees have had hitherto. We need to do all we can to recruit GPs long-term - we need greater clarity and need to be sure what the situation is for trainees in the future.'

He added that general practice was likely to remain a hard to fill specialty 'for the forseeable future', but warned that many doctors may be unwilling to switch to general practice without a guarantee that pay would be protected throughout their training.

Photo: JH Lancy

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