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Senior trust chief defends signature on letter to government over junior doctors row

PUBLISHED: 13:46 15 February 2016 | UPDATED: 13:46 15 February 2016

Susan Acott chief executive of Darent Valley hospital

Susan Acott chief executive of Darent Valley hospital

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Susan Acott is chief exec at the trust responsible for Erith and District Hospital and Darent Valley Hospital

A senior chief from Darent Valley Hospital’s trust has defended her signature on a letter telling the government to “do whatever it deems necessary” to end rows over pay with junior doctors.

Last week, health minister Jeremy Hunt announced he was imposing a new contract on junior doctors, as protests continued from the health service over changes to pay and working hours.

The imposition came after months of negotiations and strike action.

During Mr Hunt’s announcement, he mentioned the letter to demonstrate support for the government’s decision.

But Susan Acott, chief executive of Dartford and Gravesham NHS Trust, which runs Darent Valley Hospital, Queen Mary Hospital, Elm Court and Erith and District Hospital has defended her signature on the letter.

But despite criticism of the current contract, Susan Acott claimed progress had been made.

She said: “I believe that we were all aiming to arrive at a contract that would result in better services for patients and an equitable deal for junior doctors.

“The contract offer is an improvement on the position of six weeks ago and in fact a lot of agreement existed between the BMA and employers.

“We all hoped a negotiated deal could be reached even at this late stage.

“It is regrettable that the final points of disagreement could not be negotiated.

“Junior doctors are a valued and essential part of any hospital’s team.

“It saddens me that the contract is being imposed but we will work locally to ensure that our doctors have rotas that are safe for doctors, mindful of family and patients are suitably remunerated.

However junior doctor representatives have criticised the move from government.

Dr Johann Malawana, BMA’s junior doctor committee chair, said: “The decision to impose a contract is a sign of total failure on the government’s part.

“Instead of working with the BMA to reach an agreement that is in the best interestes of patients, junior doctors and the NHS as a whole, the government has walked away, rejecting a fair and affordable offer put forward by the BMA.

“Junior doctors already work around the clock seven days a week and they do so under their existing contract.

“If the government want more seven-day services then quite simply, it needs more doctors, nurses and diagnostic staff along with the investment needed to deliver it.”

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