For those living under the proverbial rock, junior doctors are very angry with Jeremy Hunt. So much so, they are threatening strike action.
Over the last few weeks, there’s been a lot of information coming from both sides of the dispute. Everything has got quite complex.
To help ease any confusion, here are three charts based on government documents. They help explain the changes junior doctors are facing.
The original review into junior doctors pay gave four options for social hours pay (A, B, C, C+). These are shown in the chart above, along with Jeremy Hunt’s most recent offer.
Jeremy Hunt’s heavily publicised offer of an 11% rise is actually less than all four of the original options.
It is important to note that whilst social hours pay is increasing by up to 19%, social hours are increasing by 50%. This effectively means junior doctors will lose most of their antisocial hours pay without being effectively compensated by a rise in social hours pay.
Currently trainee GPs are paid a supplement to make their pay equal to doctors in hospitals. This is done in order to make general practice a more popular career path.
The proposed contract would remove this supplement, which can be up to 31% of a trainee GPs pay. This would make general practice less attractive at a time when it is already suffering from a recruitment crisis.
‘Flexible Pay Premiums’ have been proposed to replace the original supplement. These premiums can be adjusted over time depending on recruitment and retention. This theoretically means that if GP training slots were consistently filled in one area, the pay premium would be lost.
The reasoning for replacing a pay supplement with a pay premium which has an identical raison-d’etre is not given.
Overall, this means trainee GPs face the possibility of a future pay cut not because they deserve one, but because their employers have managed to find the necessary amount of employees.
Junior doctors are expected to work whatever shifts are given to them any day of the week. Currently, Mon-Fri 7am-7pm is classed as sociable time and paid at a basic rate.
The proposed contracts would change sociable hours to Mon-Saturday 7am-10pm (a 50% increase) and would make working a Saturday evening identical to working Monday morning.
Shifts during antisocial hours are paid at a higher rate. A decreased amount of these shifts will mean a decreased overall pay packet. This will be especially true for jobs which work lots of nights and weekends such as A&E, anaesthetists and obstetricians.
In summary, doctors are facing more weekend work for less money. Some will have less annual leave. Some of those training to be GPs face losing nearly a third of their income. They will get a maximum 19% increase in social hours pay for an increase of 50% in social hours.
Most people would be willing to strike over such draconian measures. Many have struck over less. Very few would expect those who look after the nation’s health on a daily basis to be so poorly treated.
There was originally another chart here describing annual leave changes.
After some confusion, it turns out that annual leave varies a lot by area and by experience. The original chart has been removed to avoid confusion.
The proposed changes will give doctors 25 days annual leave, rising to 30 after five years of service. In some areas, this will be a decrease; in some areas, it will mean no change.