Junior Doctors' Contract

Meeting: 
MQT on 2015-11-18
Session date: 
November 18, 2015
Reference: 
2015/3763
Question By: 
Onkar Sahota
Organisation: 
Labour Group
Asked Of: 
The Mayor
Category: 

Question

I have been asked to put the following question to you by a member of the public:

"I am a junior doctor living in London.

Like every junior doctor working in England, I face a great deal of uncertainty regarding what my salary will be from August 2016. This is due to the belligerent approach of Jeremy Hunt and the…Government.

"As London is an exceptionally expensive city to both live and work. I am concerned regarding whether or not I will be able to afford to remain as a junior doctor in this wonderful city.

"I am not alone. There is a very real danger that many junior doctors living and working in London will have to leave their posts and seek employment in other more affordable parts of the UK. I am sure you are well aware that many London hospitals are heavily reliant upon locum doctors to ensure safe staffing levels. A mass exodus of junior doctors from our Capital will worsen this. Unfortunately this will be compounded by the proposed cap on locum rates that your colleague, Jeremy Hunt, is pushing through."

Are you concerned about the impact of the proposed junior doctor's contract on the ability of London to attract essential medical professionals?

Answer

Answer for Junior Doctors' Contract

Answer for Junior Doctors' Contract

Answered By: 
The Mayor

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Onkar, I should point out that these contracts are not in my purview, as you know well.  They are to do with Department of Health and National Health Service (NHS) Employers.  We do not have responsibility in this area and it really is not for me here to try to second-guess that or to get involved in the negotiations or the discussions now.

On your question, my information is that London is in fact at the moment very successful in attracting junior doctors and at the moment there is no difficulty in recruiting to fill vacant positions.  That is the information I have from Health Education England.

Clearly, what is within my power is to try to make sure we have the conditions in which young professionals are able to start their lives, build their careers, have families and all the rest of it.  Housing for me is the crucial thing there and there we are working flat out, as you know, to try to make London hospitable - as it were - for young professionals like junior doctors.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Mr Mayor, the truth is that young professionals are increasingly feeling the pain of living in London.  They are struggling to find a place to live.  The contract changes proposed by Mr Hunt [The Rt Hon Jeremy Hunt MP, Secretary of State for Health] will make it even more difficult for junior doctors to live in London.

Let me just talk about Dr Janis Burns, who has written to you and to me.  She says,

“As London is an exceptionally expensive city to live and work in, I’m concerned regarding whether or not I will be able to afford to remain as a junior doctor in this wonderful city.”

She goes on to say,

“There’s a very real danger that many junior doctors living and working in London will have to leave their posts and seek employment in other affordable parts of the country.”

Why are you constantly ignoring the pressures and undervaluing the keyworkers in London, Mr Mayor?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  As I say, on the first point, on your actual question, the information that we have is that there is not a problem at the moment in attracting recruits.  However, your other point, which is a very good one, is that we have to make sure that London can provide homes for people who are going to be on good incomes by comparison with many Londoners but who will still be able to find somewhere to live.

The answer to that is to build loads more homes and that is what we are doing to help Londoners who cannot necessarily afford a big mortgage to get part-buy/part-rent homes so that they can staircase up.  Most people in those situations are going to want to be able to get a share in the value of their property, even if they cannot get the whole thing.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Mr Mayor, the truth is that London is getting more expensive to live in and to work in.  Dr Janis [Burns], who has written to you and to me, then further goes and says,

“I’m sure you will be well aware that many London hospitals are heavily reliant upon locum doctors to ensure safe staffing levels.  A mass exodus of junior doctors from our capital will worsen this.”

Currently, we have a  shortage of 8,000 nurses in London.  We are recruiting paramedics from New Zealand.  You have been told previously through a report of the Health Committee that there is a shortage of 6,000 general practitioners (GPs) in London.  There is a 13% vacancy rate for GP trainees in London.  Yet things are getting worse because of the Government contracts.

One thing you could have done was to implement a keyworker housing strategy, but you have not.  You have had eight years to do so.  Why do you keep ignoring the plight of keyworkers in London?

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I will tell you.  We do not ignore the plight of workers in London.  Most people would appreciate that it is very difficult to distinguish between one sector and another.  Many people in many professions feel that they are of vital importance to the economy and our job is to build as many homes as we can for all sectors of the London population.  That is why I am very proud of the record we have had in building more affordable homes than ever before.  For people like junior doctors, who, as I said, are not in short supply at the moment in London ‑‑

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  They are in short supply, Mr Mayor.  You are obviously out of touch with reality.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  Not according to the briefing that I have been--

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  Obviously, you need to have your briefing checked.

Boris Johnson MP (Mayor of London):  I am always willing to listen to your expertise in this, Onkar, but I can only repeat to you what the NHS is telling me.  It is vital that all professionals should be able to find somewhere to live in London.  There is huge pressure on this city, basically because of the dynamism and the success of London.  We have had a huge growth in population since I have been Mayor.  It is by far the most dynamic and attractive urban economy in Europe.  That means building loads more homes and that is the answer.  That is the single best thing we in City Hall can do to help junior doctors.

Dr Onkar Sahota AM:  I will leave it there, then, Mr Mayor.  Thank you.