The BMA has cautioned that the current working patterns of doctors should not become the “new norm”.
The union was responding to a letter from NHS England and NHS Improvement (NHSEI) to healthcare trusts advising that the NHS is now moving into the second phase of its response to COVID-19.
"This has largely been possible as a result of the unparalleled commitment and flexibility of NHS staff, combined with the public’s social distancing," the correspondence states.
NHSEI says the system should take the opportunity to “lock in” beneficial changes, including local initiative and flexibility; enhanced local system working; strong clinical leadership; flexible and remote working; and new technology-enabled service delivery options such as digital consultations.
Dr Chaand Nagpaul, chair of BMA council, said: “Since the beginning of the COVID-19 outbreak, the efforts of NHS staff to adapt to this crisis have been nothing short of remarkable.
“While doctors have stepped up to the challenge of being adaptable and working in new ways and roles as a result of the national effort against COVID-19, it is vital that current working patterns do not automatically become the new norm and nationally agreed contracts remain as they were,” he said. The BMA says it will “continue to be flexible for the period of the emergency”.