A group of MPs has called on Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt to pilot the use of a new NHS contract in a bid to end the ongoing row with junior doctors.
In a letter, the cross-party MPs called for an independent evaluation of the controversial contract in operation and a study of mortality rates at weekends.
The letter was “political opportunism” by Labour, a government spokesman said.
Junior doctors in England are to begin a 48-hour walkout on Tuesday – their first strike to include emergency care.
Mr Hunt has argued that he wants to improve care on Saturdays and Sundays, saying research shows patients are more likely to die if they are admitted during a weekend.
The new contract – which junior doctors have so far rejected – would change the terms of their pay and conditions, particularly at weekends.
The health secretary has said he will now unilaterally impose the contract on junior doctors.
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However, in the letter – organised by Labour’s shadow health secretary Heidi Alexander – the group of MPs called for an independent evaluation of the contract in a trial.
The MPs wrote: “You will be aware that medical leaders, royal colleges and patient groups, have said the imposition or unilateral introduction of the contract is the wrong approach and risks permanent damage to the future of the medical workforce.
“If it remains your intention to introduce this new contract, we believe it should be piloted in a number of trusts/across a number of deaneries and for its impact on patients, staff and the ‘weekend effect’ to be independently evaluated.”
The letter was also signed by Conservative Dr Dan Poulter, Liberal Democrat Norman Lamb and the SNP’s Dr Philippa Whitford.
If the government agreed to limited …read more
Source:: BBC UK