Women consultantsBMJ 1994; 308 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.308.6939.1303 (Published 14 May 1994) Cite this as: BMJ 1994;308:1303
EDITOR, - Julia Cumberlege refers to the part time consultant scheme as a method of encouraging NHS managers to “consider the business advantages of part time appointments.”1 Readers might be interested in the details of the scheme: close analysis shows business disadvantages.
Firstly, the funding is restricted to three years but is not rolled over. Funding was available from 1 April 1993, but invitations to bid were structured so that candidates could not possibly be in post by that date. Our local services were invited to bid two to three months later, and the Department of Health made decisions towards the end of the calendar year. We have now appointed someone to start next June, with only about half of the original funding currently available to us.
Secondly, in the scheme the Department of Health guarantees funding at the full level for only the first year, and it is hoped that funding will continue at the same level for whatever is left of the original three years.
Thirdly, purchasers are required to sign an undertaking to pay the subsequent costs. In practice, I suspect, budget holders will be required to make the “cost efficiency” savings our purchasers have been inflicting on us for the past three years, whereby we continue to provide the same level of service for less.
Business managers would be well advised to look carefully at the next tranche (presumably funded by the unspent money resulting from the first scheme) before committing their services to something they may not be able to afford. This apparent concession to professional women trying to combine careers and domestic commitments does not stand up well to closer scrutiny.
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