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New consultants’ contract focuses on pay and seven day working

BMA and NHS employers set out draft terms for possible new contract talks

Mark Gould

Thursday, 01 August 2013

Seven day working, reform of local and national clinical excellence awards, and a review of pay progression are the key features of draft heads of terms for possible formal renegotiation of the consultants’ contract for consultants working in England and Northern Ireland.

The draft was published yesterday following exploratory talks between the BMA and NHS Employers, including representatives from the devolved nations.

It says that a review of pay progression would seek to enhance the provision of safe, high quality care, to reflect the professional development of the consultant and to reward a well-motivated, stable workforce while ensuring it is affordable.

Both parties will now consider the draft during the summer before deciding whether to proceed to a formal renegotiation of the current contractual arrangements in the autumn. This will require a mandate from both the BMA UK Consultants Committee and the Health Departments.

Commenting, Dr Paul Flynn, chair of the BMA’s UK Consultants' Committee said:

“Never has it been more important that consultants are empowered to drive forward quality in the NHS. We will be considering whether changes to the consultant contract can help this while ensuring that a consultant career is an attractive and rewarding choice.”

Dean Royles, the chief executive of the NHS Employers organisation, said: “This is an important step towards ensuring we have a consultants' contract that continues to deliver for patients. Recent reports into the quality of NHS services like the Francis report and the Keogh review starkly highlight the importance of safe staffing throughout the week. We are hopeful that we can work in partnership to negotiate changes which will be better for doctors, employers and crucially our patients.

“Our discussions with the BMA over the development of these heads of terms have been extremely useful and we very much hope to continue with a constructive dialogue and achieve a mandate to enter into formal negotiations.”

Mark Newbold, Chair of the NHS Confederation Hospital Forum said: "Changing demands on the service and the drive for improved quality require a workforce which is engaged and able to cope with rising case complexity.

"Consultants are essential in providing high-quality care and need to be further empowered to do so, rewarding their career choice and enabling them to use their skills at best.

"It is therefore important to ensure that consultant contracts contribute to meet these objectives, including changes that will facilitate seven-day care for patients, while safeguarding staff interest and wellbeing".

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