Commenting on the announcement junior doctors had rejected the government’s contract offer, Dr Mark Holland, president of the Society for Acute Medicine, said:
“The rejection of the new contract by junior doctors is no surprise. Most people I spoke to were unhappy with the most recent proposal, although clearly the split of 58% against and 42% for is closer than the initial ballot in 2015.
“The authority of the BMA has been challenged and dented and we need to move away from this continuing uncertainty as soon as possible. I think the solution will be found in our professionalism as opposed to traditional employment avenues.
“Junior doctors have a good case and the contract offered to them was not properly thought through. I have always thought that the contract dispute was a battleground through which junior doctors could express a lot of their anger around pay, working conditions and training which have accumulated over many years.
“I heard health secretary Jeremy Hunt speak at the NHS Confederation meeting in Manchester recently and he too thought the dispute ran deeper than the proposed contract – but the solution is within Mr Hunt’s gift.
“He should acknowledge the frustration of junior doctors and, in the context of a workforce crisis, halt the new contract for this year. He should then invite senior leaders within the medical profession, such as the president of the Royal College of Physicians, to work on a whole package of measures which make training in medicine enjoyable again.
“While the BMA is the designated medical union, we need to think much wider about how we can make the working lives of trainees better, hence my call for wider engagement with other bodies to seek a solution which addresses all the issues that pose a threat to good training.
“The Society for Acute Medicine is committed to helping to provide the best training for future consultants. The relentless workload on all our members is not sustainable. Hopefully Mr Hunt will take heed of the democratic voice of junior doctors and navigate a new path in trying to solve the contract dispute.”