More on the consultant contract

BMJ 2002; 325 doi: https://doi.org/10.1136/bmj.325.7363.545 (Published 07 September 2002) Cite this as: BMJ 2002;325:545

Framework doesn't consider anomaly of £100 000 in lost earnings for some

  1. Colin J P Welsh, consultant physician/cardiologist (cwelsh@cht.nhs.uk)
  1. Huddersfield Royal Infirmary, Huddersfield HD3 3EA
  2. Queen Elizabeth Hospital, London SE18 4QH
  3. Canterbury CT3 1NG
  4. Sheffield Vascular Institute, Northern General Hospital, Sheffield S5 7AU
  5. University Hospitals of Leicester, Glenfield Hospital, Leicester LE3 9QP
  6. St James's University Hospital, Leeds LS9 7TF
  7. School of Sociology and Social Policy, University of Nottingham NG7 2RD

    EDITOR—Like most correspondents, I am filled with a mixture of disbelief and horror about the proposed new consultant contract.1 At a recent BMA meeting in Leeds the audience did not leave “reassured and ready to spread the word” like those described by our chief negotiator, Peter Hawker, in the press release of 8 July. The general mood was one of disappointment and at times open hostility. Several points arose which have not been addressed in the correspondence—here are two.

    Firstly, the new contract contains an iniquitous anomaly affecting consultants recently appointed at the bottom of the existing pay scale. This is not included in any BMA document. Under the new framework, existing consultants appointed at the top of the pay scale will receive five years of seniority credit in comparison with those appointed on exactly the same date at the bottom of the scale. In the current contract those who start on minimum salary take five years to achieve parity of pay. Under the new contract it will take 20 years. For consultants recently appointed at minimum salary this equates to lost earnings in excess of £100 000. Appointments to top scale are rarely made on the basis of experience or merit but are commonplace where posts are difficult to fill—this is blatant discrimination against those of us appointed on minimum salary.

    Secondly, the BMA reassures us that regular evening and weekend sessions are unlikely to become the norm because of the difficulty in finding non-medical staff to support them. It seems blindingly obvious to everyone except our negotiators that this is the cheapest way for the government to deliver a 50% increase in outpatient and operating theatre capacity. Our new outpatient manager pointed this out to me four months ago: she would have no difficulty in recruiting nurses …

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