Ministers wrong in junior doctors row, says ex-adviser
Ministers should “apologise” to junior doctors and row back on imposing a new contract in England, the government”s former patient safety adviser says.
Prof Don Berwick, who led a review for government on safety three years ago, said there should be a three-year moratorium on the new contract.
He said the NHS had a “demoralised” workforce and needed to find another way out of the “mess”.
Ministers have said the new contract is needed to improve safety at weekends.
But Prof Berwick cast doubt on that by saying it may be “impossible” for the NHS to tackle the issue given the current level of funding, the HSJ reports.
Speaking at an event in London at the King”s Fund think-tank, Prof Berwick said: “You cannot achieve excellence in combat with your future workforce, it makes no sense at all.
“So you need to find a way to de-escalate… I think the government should apologise.”
But Prof Berwick, who has also acted as a health adviser to US President Barack Obama, said there did not need to be resignations but urged ministers to acknowledge their “mistake”.
He also urged junior doctors to have “some courage and generosity” and embrace some of the changes being made.
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Prof Berwick is the most high profile figure yet to speak out against the decision to impose the new contract.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt made the announcement earlier this month after talks with the British Medical Association broke down.
The BMA has argued the deal is “flawed” and say they have put forward a “fair and affordable” alternative.
The new contract, which reduces payments for weekend working, will start being rolled out in the summer.