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Mouldy digs don’t make the grade for juniors

In September 2008 the junior doctors committee launched its hospital accommodation inspection campaign and produced an online checklist for members to determine whether their hospital accommodation met minimum standards.

The minimum accommodation standards have applied to residential hospital accommodation for several years but have often been overlooked.

Paragraph 175 of juniors’ national terms and conditions of service says that should hospital accommodation fall below the minimum standards stipulated in annex A of HSC 2000/036, employers must provide it free of charge until improvements have been completed.

When the inspection campaign was launched, one of the JDC’s representatives in the north west of England decided to inspect his accommodation using the online checklist.

He soon determined that the residential accommodation failed to meet the minimum standards in several respects. Deficiencies included leaking roofs, mouldy decoration and the ratio of bedrooms to kitchens and living areas.

He raised his concerns immediately with his trust’s director of human resources but received no response. He then brought the issue to the attention of the local negotiating committee, and discussions started on the application of HSC 2000/036 to the situation.

The LNC junior doctor representative and the BMA industrial relations officer set out clearly to the trust the requirements of the HSC and the provisions of the terms and conditions of service. The trust agreed to meet the representative, and a programme of repairs to the hospital accommodation was discussed. However, some months later no remedial work had been started.

Discussions at the LNC continued, and the trust made various excuses for not having organised repairs. In respect of the rental charges, the trust tried to deny it had any responsibility to apply the provisions of paragraph 175.

Months later, there had still been no resolution. Accordingly, the BMA advised the representative to submit a collective grievance on behalf of all the doctors in residence at the hospital accommodation. This grievance was submitted on behalf of 16 doctors, and the grievance hearing was arranged. The IRO drafted a statement of case for the grievance and exchanged this with the trust shortly before the hearing was due to take place.

On receipt of the statement of case, the IRO was contacted by the trust’s director of human resources, who confirmed that the trust was not able to defend its position and would stop all rental charges immediately until a programme of repair was agreed and completed.

The 16 doctors in residence also received reimbursement of their rent payments since September 2008, which equated to approximately £44,000.

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