Junior doctors at Worthing Hospital are petitioning against government plans to impose a new contract – which they say could mean a ‘significant pay cut’.
More than 50 signatures have been added to the petition with many medics contemplating industrial action.
The new contract proposes an 11 per cent rise in basic pay for junior doctors.
However the number of hours during the week which are classed as ‘unsociable’ and therefore a better paid – are being cut.
However, the government also proposes to scrap guaranteed pay increases, linked to time in the job, and replace them with a system where junior doctors progress through different stages in training.
Dr Suzanne Daniel, who spoke on behalf of the Worthing Hospital Doctors’ Mess said: “For those doctors working evenings, nights and weekends – which is the vast majority of us – the loss of banding supplements still equates to a pay cut.
“An 11 per cent pay ‘rise’ is not only less than the 15 per cent previously offered, but also ignores the fact this is an increase on basic pay without banding.
“We remain deeply upset about the developments and have written to our local MPs with the hope that they will raise our concerns in the House of Commons with Jeremy Hunt in particular.”
In a letter to Peter Bottomley, MP for Worthing West, and Tim Loughton, MP for East Worthing and Shoreham, Dr Daniel said: “Widening the definition of social hours and removing the banding supplement can only have one of two effects: If the pay is the same then the hours will be worse.
“If the hours are the same then the pay will be worse. Either way this is an effective pay cut.”
She said the changes would result in pay cuts, damage morale, endanger the lives of patients and ‘threaten the future of the National Health Service’.
Dispute not ‘solely about pay’
Balloting for industrial action is open for two weeks but is set to close on November 18.
Jeremy Hunt, health secretary said the changes would help bring in a seven-day NHS, but said he wants to avoid industrial action.
The British Medical Association (BMA), the trade union for doctors said the contract would be ‘unsafe’ for patients and ‘unfair’ for doctors.
Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chairman, said: “The BMA has been clear throughout this process that we want to reach a negotiated agreement with the government.
“This dispute is not – and never was – solely about pay. It is about agreeing a contract that is safe and fair, and delivers for patients, junior doctors and NHS.”
Dr George Findlay, Medical Director at Western Sussex Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs Worthing Hospital and St Richard’s Hospital in Chichester said he was ‘certain’ doctors would never put patients at risk.
He said: “Patient safety is our number one priority, so we are fully supportive of our junior doctors’ efforts to ensure any changes to their professional terms and conditions are safe for everyone they care for.
“No-one in the health service ever wants to strike but we understand our juniors’ strength of feeling on this issue.
“Obviously we have no influence over how it is resolved but I am certain that, whatever happens, our doctors would never take any measure that would put any of our patients at risk.”
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