The Welsh Government showed their support for junior doctors last week by tweeting an invitation to work for the Welsh NHS.
England saw strikes last Wednesday and more are expected in the following weeks until an agreement is made. Health minister Jeremy Hunt has decided that new contracts will be imposed, leading to some junior doctors threatening to resign or refuse to sign the new contracts.
The Welsh Government made their position on the matter clear by tweeting: “#Juniordoctors from any part of the UK interested in working in Wales will find a very warm welcome here”.
The annual salary for junior doctors is the same in England and Wales, but Wales are not attempting to impose new contracts and will continue with the agreements already in place. The Welsh NHS has been devolved since 1999 so they are under no obligation to follow in England’s footsteps, and appear to have a very different attitude towards the strikes. Scotland have also taken this position and have stated that they will not change their contracts.
The British Medical Association (BMA) has said it will not accept the imposition of this contract in England and has a list of demands that they want to see addressed. One of the key points of controversy is the issue of weekend pay and overtime.
The Government are only planning to pay overtime for junior doctors who work after 5pm on a Saturday and will reduce overtime on weekdays, but the BMA want a 50 per cent increase on the basic rate for all weekend hours. They have said that they will take a lower percentage increase on the basic rate in order to cover the increased weekend pay but the Government remain resolute.
BMA junior doctor leader Dr Johann Malawana told the BBC that the contract being put forward is “flawed” and that the alterations the BMA have suggested are “fair but affordable”. Jeremy Hunt, however, has said the new contract is a “take-it-or-leave-it” deal.
The Government are planning to impose the new contracts in England later this year and it would be the first attempt by a government to impose a contract on junior doctors.