BMA surrenders junior doctor contract strike mandate

The BMA has abandoned the prospect of further industrial action over the imposed junior doctor contract.

A meeting of the BMA’s junior doctors committee agreed this month to tear up the mandate for strike action - backed by 98% of junior doctors in a ballot in November 2015.

The committee has told members it plans to return to talks with the government and NHS Employers over the implementation of the junior doctor contract.

The decision means junior doctors could not legally take any more action without a fresh ballot.

Junior doctor strikes

A grassroots junior doctors group said the decision had ‘shocked’ many juniors, and warned that the BMA risked losing support and the trust of members. Some junior doctors voiced anger via social media about the move.

The move follows the abandonment of a planned wave of five-day strikes in September.

In an email to members the new interim junior doctors committee chair Dr Pete Campbell said the committee had decided the best way forward as contracts were introduced was to end the mandate and ‘re-engage’ with government and employers.

‘The junior doctors committee agreed that this is the best way to ensure that the interests of our members are safeguarded and gives us the best chance to hold both the government and NHS Employers to their commitment that the contract will ensure safe working hours, will meet junior doctors' training needs and that the programme of work led by Health Education England to address wider concerns about training is taken forward,’ said Dr Campbell.

Junior doctor talks

Dr Campbell said he was urgently seeking a meeting with health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

The Junior Doctors’ Alliance (JDA), which says it is a grassroots group of juniors, criticised the BMA for taking the decisions ‘without any discussion with the mass membership of thousands of junior doctors who voted overwhelmingly to reject the deal the BMA had negotiated earlier this year - and without any openness about how it reached this decision’.

A JDA spokesperson said: ‘This is unacceptable. The BMA is a democratic union and its decision-making and actions should be transparent to its membership. It is clear that our union prefers secrecy than transparency when dealing with the government and its members. It’s no wonder so many doctors - at all grades - are losing trust in the BMA.’

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