Junior doctors must consider whether new contract will make NHS safe, warns GP trainee

Junior doctors' support for the new contract published today could hinge on whether they believe it addresses the long-term workforce crisis facing the NHS and will keep patients safe, according to a GP trainee who campaigned against the original deal.

Junior doctors take part in strikes earlier this year
Junior doctors take part in strikes earlier this year

GP trainee Dr Marie-Estella McVeigh, a GP trainee and founder member of the campaign group Justice for Health spoke to GPonline after NHS Employers published details of the new junior doctor contract on Friday.

Junior doctors will vote in a referendum to decide whether to accept the new contract between 17 June and 1 July, with a result to be announced on 6 July. The DH has also published an equality statement on the new contract.

Dr Mc Veigh told GPonline that the contract would need to deliver on a series of key principles that junior doctors had been concerned about since the start of the dispute.

Junior doctor contract

'It needs to address understaffing,' she warned. 'There are so many rota gaps across all specialties, we are struggling to do more and more work with fewer staff all the time. We want to see a contract that addresses that and the recruitment and retention crisis in the NHS.'

Dr McVeigh said that previous versions of the contract had failed to acknowledge the crisis, or to set out mechanisms that will address it.

'Does this contract suggest ways to attract more trainees to desperately understaffed areas - A&E, psychiatry, paediatrics,' she said.' These things have to be addressed. The thing that makes jobs in medicine attractive is not the salary but the pattern of work. Your actual salary is not the defining thing that means the job is enjoyable, but how many hours you work, are you trained well, and supported.'

She urged junior doctors to consider the deal 'dispassionately', and to consider whether it was safe, sustainable, could stop the brain drain from NHS medicine, deliver good quality care and was non-discriminatory. 'If those things are OK, then maybe it will be acceptable.'

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