Contracts for junior doctors criticised

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk.

James Paget University Hospital, Gorleston, Norfolk. - Credit: Nick Butcher

New contracts drawn up by the government for junior doctors have been slammed by medics.

The dispute over junior doctors' pay has been rumbling since September, when the government announced plans to restrict the number of unsocial hours which brings in extra pay.

It believes its new proposal will improve patient safety.

But Dr Ben Kirk, who works at the James Paget University Hospital in Gorleston, has criticised the plans.

Writing in our sister paper the Eastern Daily Press last week, health minister Ben Gummer, said: 'The current junior doctors' contract incentivises long hours by rewarding those that work above and beyond the legal limit.

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'The new contract will be based on no junior being required to work more than an average of 48 hours per week, with tougher limits on unsafe hours - including a new maximum working week of 72 hours, down from 91.

'This will help to reduce burnout and improve patient safety.'

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But Dr Kirk said: 'There still remains no solid safeguards preventing junior doctors being exploited through dangerously long shifts. Despite assurances of safe working hours I remain abjectly sceptical.'

Mr Gummer, who is also MP for Ipswich, said: 'We will remove the complex banding payments system and replace it by paying doctors for hours worked.

'There will be around an 11 per cent increase to junior doctors' basic pay - with proportionately higher pay for unsocial hours.'

However Dr Kirk said the 11 per cent increase would not count as a pay rise once one calculates doctors' loss of extra pay for working unsocial hours.

Dr Kirk said he would vote in favour of industrial action, with the British Medical Association balloting members from last week.

? What do you think? Write, giving your full contact details, to: Journal Postbox, 147 London Road North, Lowestoft NR32 1NB or email

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