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The health secretary has said that no junior doctors working up to the legal limit will lose money if changes are made to their contract.
Speaking at a Labour debate, Jeremy Hunt said the proposed contractual changes were about patient care not saving money, the BBC reports.
Currently, junior doctors are paid extra to work outside their "normal working hours", which are classed as anytime between 07:00 to 19:00, Monday to Friday. Under the proposed contract amends, these time slots would be lengthened so junior doctors would only get additional payments if they work past 22:00 on every day apart from Sunday.
However, some of the finer details of the plans seem to still be undecided as the Department of Health told the BBC that further details would be announced in "the coming days".
In response to the announcement, the British Medical Association (BMA) says Mr Hunt had "finally made a significant shift" but that more details were needed.
Writing to the BMA's junior doctors committee chair Johann Malawana, the health secretary said there was a "firm guarantee" that no junior doctor will be worse off financially under the new contracts, but it remains unclear how extending their "normal working hours" will not see them lose money.
Responding to the minister’s letter, Dr Malawana said: "It is encouraging that the health secretary has finally made a significant shift and recognised some of the concerns raised by junior doctors.
"However, it has taken the threat of industrial action and the sight of thousands of junior doctors taking to the streets to reach this point."
According to the BMA, the changes could results in cuts of up to 30 per cent, but Mr Hunt has denied this. Speaking to the House of Commons, the health secretary said he body had chosen to "wind up its own members" and had created a "huge amount of unnecessary anger".
Reacting to the proposed contractual changes for junior doctors, the BMA is due to hold a two-week ballot for its members next week (November 5th) to allow them to vote on whether strike action is necessary.
In his speech to the House of Commons, Mr Hunt said he had invited the BMA to negotiate a new contract so that the government could find a solution that was right for both doctors and patients.
He added: "However, because we have just won an election and a seven-day NHS was a manifesto commitment in that election, we did say that having tried to negotiate this unsuccessfully for two-and-a-half years we would ask trusts to introduce new contracts if we were unable to succeed in negotiations."
Dr Malawana said the BMA had been "quite clear" that the government needed to withdraw its threat of imposition of new contracts on junior doctors, the extensive preconditions to negotiations the Department of Health keeps insisting on, and provide junior doctors with the assurances they are demanding before re-entering negotiations.
He said the letter from the health secretary was a "step in the right direction" and that the trade union looked forward to hearing more details.
Written by James Puckle
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