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Acas update on junior doctors' dispute

Wednesday 18 May 2016

Following ten days of intensive talks to seek to resolve the long running junior doctors' dispute, an Acas statement setting out the terms of an agreement has been presented to the government and NHS employers, and to the BMA - pdf icon Junior doctors' contract agreement 18 May 2016 [235kb]. This has now been agreed by all parties as resolving the current dispute subject to securing the support of BMA junior doctor members in a referendum.

Work will be done together by both sides over the next two weeks to finalise the communications with BMA members on all the details of the agreement and their new contract. Some elements of the new contract, if approved in the referendum, will be implemented in August this year and all junior doctors will move on to the agreed new terms between October 2016 and August 2017. No further industrial action will be called while the referendum is underway.

The negotiations over the last ten days have been chaired throughout by Acas Chairman Sir Brendan Barber.

Sir Brendan Barber said:

"The negotiators from both sides have worked with great intensity and in a good spirit to achieve this breakthrough. I have particularly appreciated the positive leadership shown by Sir David Dalton and Dr Johann Malawana throughout these talks. I am grateful too that the Secretary of State for Health Jeremy Hunt engaged directly with the negotiations to help move the discussions forward.

"This long running dispute has clearly been an extraordinarily difficult period for the NHS. So I am glad that as well as cooperating closely in preparing the communications for the upcoming referendum, all the parties are also strongly committed to tackling together the bigger, wider challenges facing the NHS.

"Acas has been pleased to have been able to play a part in constructing a positive way forward."

Dr Johann Malawana, BMA junior doctor committee chair, said:

"Following intense but constructive talks, we are pleased to have reached agreement.

"Junior doctors have always wanted to agree a safe and fair contract, one that recognises and values the contribution junior doctors make to the NHS, addresses the recruitment and retention crisis in parts of the NHS and provides the basis for delivering a world-class health service.

"I believe that what has been agreed today delivers on these principles, is a good deal for junior doctors and will ensure that they can continue to deliver high-quality care for patients. This represents the best and final way of resolving the dispute and this is what I will be saying to junior doctors in the weeks leading up to the referendum on the new contract."

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said:

"We welcome this significant agreement which delivers important changes to the junior doctors' contract necessary to deliver a safer seven day NHS.

"The talks have been constructive and positive and highlighted many areas outside the contract where further work is necessary to value the vital role of junior doctors and improve the training and support they are given. This deal represents a definitive step forward for patients, for doctors, and for the NHS as a whole."

A copy of the Acas statement agreed between the parties is available pdf icon Junior doctors' contract agreement 18 May 2016 [235kb]. This statement details the issues which were settled during ‎ Acas discussions, either outstanding from February discussions or new issues raised during the course of this process. The detailed contract will be available shortly and will include a combination of agreed terms from February negotiations and the new provisions included in this statement‎.

Notes to editors

  1. Acas stands for Advisory, Conciliation and Arbitration Service. We aim to improve organisations and working life through better employment relations. We help with employment relations by supplying up-to-date information, independent advice and high quality training, and working with employers and employees to solve problems and improve performance. Acas is an independent and impartial statutory body governed by a Council made up of members from business, trade unions, academia and the law.
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