I am the secretary of the Northern JDC. I voted against the contract, I ran a campaign against. I think it is discriminatory, unfair and does not address the issues and concerns of junior doctors. I believe that we need to step up our action against imposition.
Plans are being put in place; I will use my new position to argue that these plans reflect the views of the members. That imposition is not acceptable. That this contract is not acceptable and we must robustly face it down.
The BMA must call more industrial action and this should be a clear escalation. Junior doctors should not be asked to sign a contract that discriminates against women, those with disabilities or caring roles. We need a contract that properly recognises and rewards out of hours work. We need a contract that recruits and retains doctors, and ensures that we are able to train. All of these ultimately benefit not just ourselves but our patients.
We must support Justice for Health (the five BMA members taking the government to court over the junior contract). The argument that they threaten our national terms and conditions is weak. Five BMA members can’t do that. The BMA should stand up to this bullying. You can argue about the merits of their case and the likelihood of their success, but I stand fully beside them. They are doing a truly remarkable thing.
Junior doctors need to be free to make a protected disclosure, they need whistleblowing protection. I’m no lawyer, but it has been made clear to me that the most straightforward solution to this problem is for Health Education England (body which oversees doctors’ training) to be constituted as an employment agency in law.
The Secretary of State has the power to make this happen. He should use that power. The NHS is under threat like never before. We need a BMA that champions universal healthcare, free at the point of use, paid for through general taxation and organised and run in the interest of patients not profits.
The BMA has good policy in this area, but it is time to fight for that policy to become a reality. Student Nurses work as part of their training. They should be paid for this. The BMA should stand shoulder to shoulder with the nurses of the future to fight their corner and I commend the medical students who have taken up this issue within the BMA.
We are at a crossroads, where we go next is up to all of us. The BMA moves too slowly for many. It often moves far to slowly for me. But it is moving, and we will continue to build up steam. We have a choice, we can seize this once in a lifetime opportunity to make our working lives better or we can watch as our contracts, our hospitals and our patients are ripped away from us.
I’ve chosen to roll up my sleeves up and get stuck in. I know that’s what thousands of you do each and every day at work. (I’ve seen the rota gap data.) Unity isn’t powerful when everyone agrees, that usually means you have already cut some people out of the conversation, out of the campaign. Now is the real test, can we put aside our differences, can we work together to put the best interests of our patients, our colleagues and our friends first?
I’m just one voice, I can’t promise you miracles. But I will fight your corner. Keep pushing the BMA to do more and act in our interests. Do whatever you can, and together let’s fight imposition.