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Comment on the junior doctors’ contract discussions

25 Nov 2015

Following position statements on the Junior Doctors’ Contract from the Association of Surgeons in Training (ASiT) and the British Orthopaedic Trainees Association (BOTA) the Presidents of the three Surgical Royal Colleges of the UK have written to both organisations.

The letter makes the following points:

  • Recognising the fundamental contribution of our trainees in delivering a safe and high quality NHS.
  • Commenting on specific aspects of terms and conditions is not appropriate for the Colleges.
  • Any contract should support education and training, service provision and recruitment across all surgical specialities.
  • An imposed settlement is the wrong way to bring about contractual changes and NHS Employers and the Junior Doctors Committee should be encouraged to return to the negotiating  table.

19th September 2015

Negotiations on doctors’ contracts take place between the British Medical Association, NHS Employers and the Government. As a College we do not comment on contractual terms and conditions of doctors. We are not party to those discussions and our focus is on improving standards of care.

Nevertheless the College is concerned about current levels of morale in the medical workforce. New innovative models of care are required in the NHS alongside increased efficiency and innovation. We must do more to support and recognise the staff who are going to deliver this. The King’s Fund’s most recent quarterly monitoring report on NHS performance shows staff morale is now top of the list of concerns among NHS finance directors. Similarly, while the NHS Staff Survey shows most staff enjoy their job and feel they are making a difference, almost half are not satisfied their good work is recognised by their leaders. These are warning signs that must not be ignored.

In imposing a new contract on junior doctors, the Government and the whole NHS needs to consider how we can better support workforce morale. We must review how we can support staff through service, team and rota design; patient contact; and ensuring that positive feedback is communicated and acknowledged by leaders.

It is widely accepted that the NHS is facing tough financial pressures with increasing demand. Yet record numbers of patients are being seen by surgeons with 4.7 million admitted for surgical treatment during 2013/14. This has risen 27% in a decade. It is testament to the skill and work ethic of surgeons and the entire NHS workforce that standards of patient care remain high despite the everyday pressures we face.

Note to editors

The Royal College of Surgeons of England (RCS) is committed to enabling surgeons to achieve and maintain the highest standards of surgical practice and patient care. Registered charity number: 212808.

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