Today Medical students and junior doctors protested around the UK over the scrapping of an accommodation allowance for newly-qualified doctors. The protests were as part of a wider campaign by the British Medical Association (BMA) over the issue.
It is claimed by the BMA that, as a result of the move, some Junior Doctors will be as much as £5,000 a year worse off.
The Medical Act was amended in August last year removing the requirement of Junior Doctors in their first year to live on site. This also removed the requirement for employers to offer free accommodation for doctors.
The government argues that the changes to working patterns for doctors meant that it was no longer necessary for junior doctors to be on call during their first year.
A spokesman said:
This represents significant improvements to working hours and conditions of service that junior doctors now benefit from.
In addition, salaries for doctors in training are already competitive even without free accommodation.
As the residency requirement has been removed, and taking into account all the other factors, we consider it appropriate that junior doctors are treated in the same way as other NHS staff.
The BMA said it was not industrial action and all doctors working during the protests continued to care for patients as normal.
It said the aim was to make the public aware of the issue and to persuade the government to enter into “meaningful negotiations” so that a “damaging crisis” could be avoided.