Jeremy Hunt MP
Department of Health
18th April 2016
Dear Secretary of State,
The Medical Women’s Federation write to express our grave concern over the imposition of the junior doctor contract in England that has led to the unprecedented withdrawal of emergency cover on April 26th and 27th.
The contract for doctors in training to be introduced in August this year, increases hours worked outside the daytime working of the NHS. It restricts access to training opportunities, organised teaching and experience gained in working alongside experts and senior colleagues. It is widely recognised that spreading the existing doctors in training more thinly across the seven days is not going to provide a safe seven-day NHS.
The Equality Analysis, undertaken by the Department of Health and published on the 31st of March acknowledges that the contract discriminates against women, parents and carers as well as doctors with disability or ill health. It particularly affects those doctors, irrespective of gender, who are working part time during their training years. As the majority of these are women, it is particularly disappointing especially in the light of the recommendations of the Gender Pay Gap report published last month by the Women and Equalities Select Committee.
Women doctors are dedicated, talented and conscientious in their support for patient safety and the quality of care provided in the NHS. Our concern is that this imposition will result in women doctors stepping out of acute specialty training into more family friendly posts or even being driven out of medicine altogether. This will have dramatic consequences for recruitment and retention of doctors, particularly as the percentage of women doctors increases.
No one wants this strike to go ahead. We urge you to please step back and reconsider your decision and return to the negotiating table.
Our concern is that this imposition of a contract on the very doctors who are the future of health care will have serious implications for the provision of care in the already understaffed and underfunded NHS.
Dr Sally J Davies
President of The Medical Women’s Federation
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