Professor Mark Exworthy, HSMC
A couple of months ago, when I was speaking to medical students about current health policy issues (mainly the JD dispute), one of them asked me whether Jeremy Hunt was likely to be replaced as Secretary of State. I doubted nothing would happen until after the EU Referendum. Indeed, “everything” has happened since then… except Jeremy Hunt is still in post. (However, only Lord Prior is retained among the Department’s junior ministers). Despite Hunt’s mischievous tweet (https://twitter.com/Jeremy_Hunt/status/753560479658901504 ), the junior doctors rejected the offer of a new contract (58% refused to accept it; 42% endorsed it). As a result, the chair of the BMA’s junior doctor committee resigned. With the prospect of the contract being imposed later this year, staff morale and motivation will undoubtedly suffer.
As my Viewpoint piece last year highlighted the changes to consultants' contracts that were proposed are also likely to raise potential problems in implementation which will have far-reaching implications for the government’s plans for 7 day working, service, let alone the mood of NHS staff or even patient outcomes.
The prospects for cordial relations between doctors and the government therefore still seem to be some way off.