The deal remains subject to winning the approval of junior doctors in a referendum set to take place in late June or early July. But if it goes ahead - as now looks likely - the health secretary said the deal would herald the biggest change to the junior doctor contract since 1999.
In a statement to parliament on Thursday, Mr Hunt thanked BMA and NHS Employers negotiators, and the conciliation service Acas for its role in bringing the parties back round the table to resume talks.
Talks held over the past 10 days were seen as a 'final opportunity' to reach a deal that would end a dispute that saw junior doctors stage the first full walkout by doctors in NHS history earlier this year.
Junior doctor contract
Mr Hunt told MPs: 'The new contract meets all the government’s red lines for delivering a seven-day NHS and remains within the existing pay envelope. We will be publishing an equalities analysis of the new terms alongside publishing a revised contract at the end of the month.
'It will now be put to a ballot of the BMA membership next month with the support of its leader, the chair of the junior doctors committee of the BMA, Dr Johann Malawana.'
The deal agreed with the junior doctors committee would 'allow the government to deliver a seven-day NHS, improve patient safety, support much-needed productivity improvements, as well as strengthening the morale and quality of life of junior doctors with a modern contract fit for a modern health service'.
Mr Hunt highlighted the significant deal reached between negotiators over how Saturday working is considered, arguing that 'the new contract agreed yesterday makes the biggest set of changes to the junior doctors’ contract for 17 years'.
Key changes under the new deal include:
- Establishing the principle that any doctor who works less than an average of one weekend day a month (Saturday or Sunday) should receive no additional premium pay compensated by an increase in basic pay of between 10 and 11%.
- Reducing the marginal cost of employing additional doctors at the weekend by about a third.
- Supporting all hospitals to meet the four clinical standards most important for reducing mortality rates for weekend admissions by establishing a new role for experienced junior doctors as ‘senior-clinical decision makers’ able to make expert assessments of vulnerable patients who may be admitted or staying in hospitals over weekends.
- Removing the disincentive to roster sufficient numbers of doctors at weekends by replacing an inflexible banding system with a fairer system that values weekend work by paying actual unsocial hours worked with more pay to those who work the most.