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Monday, July 5, 1999 Published at 18:23 GMT 19:23 UK


Health

Junior doctors speak out

Junior doctors are threatening strike action

The government should end the practice of paying junior doctors less than their normal rate for overtime, a conference will hear.

BMA
Junior doctors, who are on the verge of industrial action, will dominate the agenda on day two of the British Medical Association's Annual Representative Meeting.

They will also seek the meeting's approval for its ballot on whether or not to take industrial action.

Also up for discussion is the government's refusal to implement a £50m pay package to consultants, even though their pay review body recommended it.

Militant moves

Junior doctors are paid in what are called additional duty hours for the time they spend on duty over and above their contracted hours.

Last month, the BMA's junior doctors committee (JDC) voted to ballot on whether or not to take industrial action.

They were upset about the poor pay and conditions they have to tolerate.

One example of the absurdity of their overtime pay they gave at the time was that those working over the millennium are going to be paid less than the hospital cleaners.

Dr Andrew Hobart, the chairman of the JDC, will also present the meeting with his annual report of what has been a turbulent year.

He said: "We don't want to have to go down the path of industrial action, but if we have to, we will.

"One in four doctors are still not working under the hours agreed by the New Deal in 1991.

"After a night on call, I still cannot get a hot meal at 2am and I have to go and sleep in a bed where the sheets have not been changed from the previous occupant."

The JDC has set a deadline of September for negotiations with the Government to succeed.

Pay pressure

Consultants will attack the government for failing to cough up the extra £50m recommended by their pay review body.

Speaking on Monday, Dr Peter Hawker, chairman of the BMA's central consultants and specialists committee, said the government had been less than truthful about the affair.

"The government told the media - and Parliament - it had implemented the review body's recommendations in full. It has not.

"We will be ensuring that the government's minor divergence from the truth will be corrected over the next few months."



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