UNCERTAINTY around the reviled new junior doctors contract has left many feeling confused over their legal protection, the Junior Doctors’ Alliance (JDA) pressure group said yesterday.
The JDA has received reports of doctors not knowing which contract they are working under, doctors who have not been given contracts and some being told they must sign the contract or lose their job.
The group slammed doctors’ union the British Medical Association (BMA) for not being clear about the legal protection NHS staff would enjoy if they tell employers they are working under protest — one of the measures the BMA recommended to oppose the new contract, which started being rolled out this week to obstetrics and gynaecology trainees.
In case of legal dispute over new contract terms, employees have to notify their employer they are working under protest and are treating the change as a breach of contract, because carrying on working without taking action may count as acceptance of the new terms, even if nothing was signed.
JDA’s Rishi Dhir said: “There is widespread confusion nationwide, a lack of uniform decisions and clarity over the new contracts.
“Trusts are already in breach of contractual requirements, that is, to give eight weeks’ notice a before change in rotas. This is vital so junior doctors can plan their lives.”
JDA member and oncology registrar Aislinn Macklin-Doherty said junior doctors are willing to resume strikes.
She said: “We’ve already gathered 120 signatures demanding that the BMA escalate its actions against the contract, to include the reinstatement of industrial action, namely strikes.”
Royal College of Obstetricians and Gynaecologists trainees committee chair Matt Prior said many trusts were not prepared for the new contract.
There is “a widespread picture of confusion, it all feels very rushed,” he said.