How many consultants should you invite to a meeting to ensure it will never happen?

BMJ 2010; 341 doi: (Published 26 November 2010) Cite this as: BMJ 2010;341:c5906
  1. Darrel P Francis, reader in cardiology and honorary consultant cardiologist, Imperial College London, UK
  1. darrel{at}

Meetings can be difficult to arrange for executives in any walk of life, but for consultants in Britain’s National Health Service, the mathematics is uniquely easy.

UK NHS contracts are typically 75% direct clinical care—contact with patients during sessions in the outpatient department, on ward rounds, in the operating theatre, or in laboratories when patients are undergoing diagnostic tests. The remaining 25% of the time is for supporting professional activities, including reading and writing correspondence, speaking with general practitioners and other specialists, teaching and training junior doctors and medical students, reading and writing scientific literature, etc. For a one-off meeting between consultants, it is undesirable to cancel or delay a …

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