Doctors, who are members of Unite, Britain and Ireland’s largest union, have two major concerns over the new contracts for junior doctors– three years after the dispute with then health secretary Jeremy Hunt.

Doctors in Unite is also calling on the British Medical Association (BMA), which is holding a referendum on the new  package of its own medics from today (Friday 14 June), to widen the franchise to include Unite’s doctor members – in line with a 1950 agreement.

Doctors in Unite chair Dr Jackie Applebee said today: “We call on the BMA to widen the vote on this contract to include all junior doctors and senior medical students to offer the opportunity for all those who are affected to have a say.

“We have a universal franchise agreement with the BMA, so that Unite doesn’t negotiate on behalf of doctors separately. Therefore, the BMA should do us the courtesy of balloting all junior doctors and final medical year students.”

Doctors in Unite highlighted two areas where it thinks that the proposed deal falls short.

Dr Jackie Applebee said: “Evening shifts and weekends are still not adequately valued. We deserve the opportunity for a work-life balance, family life and leisure. The anti-social nature of our shift patterns is not sufficiently recognised.

“A four-year pay deal fixed at two per cent does nothing to restore a decade of losses, and is likely to deliver below inflation pay rises for a further four years, when in real terms pay has fallen by 20 per cent over the last decade.

“Doctors in Unite do not accept the legitimacy of the contract imposed during Jeremy Hunt’s tenure, and reject the assumptions under which this review has been conducted.

“We think that this new deal that junior doctors are now voting on needs further improvement to make it acceptable to a profession working flat out in a very stressful environment. The contract is not good enough as it now stands.”

The BMA announced this week details of the junior doctors’ contract review. This review conducted with NHS Employers and the Department of Health and Social Care has proposed a number of changes to the 2016 contract which was imposed in that year.


Notes to editors:

  • Unite is party to the negotiating machinery of the medical profession by virtue of an agreement entered into with the BMA in 1950 whereby the BMA maintains a universal franchise machinery open to all doctors and Unite participates in that. Of the four trade unions party to the negotiating machinery, three – the BMA, BDA and Unite - operate through this machinery and the fourth – the HCSA - seeks to negotiate separately. Despite its obligations to maintain universal franchise machinery, the BMA is balloting only its own members on this settlement and Unite has protested about this.
  • The referendum runs between 14-25 June.

For more information please contact Unite senior communications officer Shaun Noble on 020 3371 2060 or 07768 693940. Unite press office is on:  020 3371 2065. Email: [email protected]

  • Unite is Britain and Ireland’s largest union with members working across all sectors of the economy. The general secretary is Len McCluskey.