A royal college president has called on health secretary Jeremy Hunt to suspend the imposition of an “ill-conceived” junior doctors contract.
Professor Neena Modi, the president of the Royal College of Paediatrics and Child Health (RCPCH) said: ‘The imposition of this ill-conceived contract has derailed the aim of delivering effective seven day services and alienated those on who the future of the NHS depends.”
Her comments follow a meeting with Hunt last week and a discussion with the college’s trainees committee.
Modi said the RCPCH wanted to put on record its concern that “it is becoming increasingly difficult to sustain the provision of safe healthcare services for UK children.”
In the last three months, eight trainee paediatricians in London have resigned over the new contracts – more than in the last two years, she said.
Cuts to Health Education England and Public Health England and efficiency savings from NHS England had added to the pressures, Modi added.
The RCPCH fully supports “effective and efficient primary and secondary healthcare seven days a week” but regretted that this had been “conflated” with the new junior doctors contract which is set to come into force in August.
Consultants would continue supporting their junior colleagues but Modi called for the government to return to the negotiating table with the British Medical Association (BMA).
A group of junior doctors called Justice for Health are mounting a legal challenge at London’s High Court to the new contract.
Their move comes in advance of next week’s all out strike by junior doctors on Tuesday 26 April and Wednesday 27 April.
Junior doctors are set to withdraw emergency care in their two days of action between 8am and 5pm each day, which is unprecedented in the history of the NHS.
Hunt tweeted today (Monday 18 April) that the government had done “what entitled to following disappointing and needless refusal to negotiate by BMA.”
The chairman of the BMA’s junior doctors committee Johann Malawana said the government was unwilling to return to talks with them.