Headlines: May 5th, 2000

Junior doctors are to begin voting today (Friday) on a scheme which will see their overtime bills become the driver to finally reduce overlong working hours.Ballot papers are being sent out to the 30,000 junior doctor members of the BMA asking them to vote on a proposed pay offer which seeks to improve the way in which they are remunerated for hours worked outside of the normal working week.

Junior doctors are currently paid about half of their normal pay for any hours worked over 40 each week, no matter when those hours are worked. Effectively this means it is significantly cheaper to pay someone to work longer than take on extra staff.

A new system, negotiated between the Department of Health and the BMA’s junior doctors committee, replaces this with a banding system which pushes earnings up according not only to the hours worked, but when they are worked and to what level of intensity.

The new system would start in December 2000 and further increases in pay will be phased in over the next two years.

The junior doctors committee hopes the new deal will provide a financial incentive for NHS trusts to address the long anti-social hours worked by junior doctors, with more money having to be paid to those who work the longest and most intense hours.

The closing date for voting is Wednesday 24 May, with results announced later that week.