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NHS Employers and BMA outline plans to negotiate contracts for junior doctors and dentists

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The British Medical Association (BMA) and NHS Employers have published "draft heads of terms", a document that sets out the scope for a possible formal renegotiation of the contract for doctors and dentists in training.

For the past six months, the BMA has been in "exploratory" talks with employers about a new contract for UK junior doctors and dentists, as it has concerns the current 13-year-old one is "no longer working".

At the end of 2012, the NHS Employers organisation proposed working towards a new contract, which ensures those in training feel "valued and engaged", and promotes care for patients and safety for trainees.

It also wants the new contract to be "affordable and adaptable" to changes in the training and working practices of trainees, and one that "minimises conflict" so it can "facilitate good relations" between trainees and their employers.

The BMA has also raised a number of areas for exploration including working hours, quality of life, and the fairness and stability of pay and training.

Dean Royles, chief executive of NHS Employers, said these renegotiations are an "important step in modernising the junior doctors' contract".

"We are hopeful we can negotiate a new contract which will be better for doctors, employers and "crucially our patients," Royles said.

He added: "These discussions in partnership with the BMA have been extremely useful and we very much hope to achieve a mandate for formal negotiations."

Dr Ben Molyneux, chair of the BMA's Junior Doctors Committee, said: "Since the current contract was drawn up we have seen radical changes to the way doctors in training work. We believe there is scope for producing a contract that works better for both junior doctors and their employers."

Both sides will now consider the "draft heads of terms" during the summer before deciding whether to proceed to a formal renegotiation of the contract. This would require a mandate from the Junior Doctors Committee and the health departments.