This year saw record recruitment to Emergency Medicine, reversing a trend of declining numbers at all levels of training in recent years. This was in part thanks to a sustained and effective campaign by the Royal College of Emergency Medicine.
The DDRB has proposed fundamental changes to the way in which trainee doctors are paid. These changes will significantly impact all those whose job involves a considerable proportion of work outside of the normal working day, particularly trainees in Emergency Medicine.
Current estimates suggest that an EM trainee in a post banded 1a (almost all EM trainees) would suffer a pay cut of between 12 - 16% if this review is implemented. This fundamental disincentive to work in EM would undo the good work that has been done in improving recruitment and retention in EM over the last few years and is completely contrary to the message the RCEM has been promoting as part of its STEP campaign, and is extremely damaging to EM as a speciality.
The BMA has recently announced that it will not return to negotiations for a new contract for junior doctors.
It is the position of the EMTA Committee that the DDRB recommendations have nothing to do with improvement to service delivery or patient care; they are entirely to do with reducing the cost of the NHS wage bill. Doctors are being used as scapegoats: a sustained media campaign to reduce public support of doctors and to portray our profession as lazy and overpaid, together with misrepresented research aimed to instill fear in the general public, have been used to reduce our bargaining position in pay negotiations. By forcing change on doctors as the leadership of the NHS, the government will strengthen its hand in forcing similar degradation in working conditions on all other members of the NHS. The government recognises that in the public forum, nurses’ pay and conditions are untouchable. By driving a change in working hours through for doctors, they pave the way for forcing the same on all other Agenda for Change Staff, under the guise of fairness – when in fact it is anything but.