NAO report recognises improvements in how NHS consultants are managed

Doctor with stethoscope

06 / 2 / 2013 Midnight

Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, responds to the National Audit Office report 'Managing NHS hospital consultants' published today (6 February 2013).

Mr Royles welcomed the report's recognition that employers have made progress and says it is time to look further into doctors' contracts:

"The National Audit Office has rightly recognised the positive progress employers have made in managing the work and pay of consultants since the consultants' contact was first introduced.
"This has been a significant achievement not only because of the complexity inherent in doctors' work, but because employers have also increased the number of NHS consultants working in the NHS by almost 70 per cent since contract negotiations began in 2000 (1).
"NHS Employers is currently in discussions with the British Medical Association and others about how any future consultant contract can further support the ability of employers and consultants to deliver the best care for patients while also providing a fair and responsive system of reward and career progression.
"In the current tight financial climate it is absolutely right that we take a fresh look at the consultant contract to get best value for patients and taxpayers. There is a compelling case for change. Junior doctors' pay arrangements, seven day consultant care and clinical excellence awards are all other areas where we need to focus to modernise and improve the medical workforce and the care our patients receive."
The NHS Employers organisations has worked closely with the BMA to develop joint guidance on consultant job planning based on agreed principles that put delivery of high quality care first and foremost. NHS Employers is now working with the BMA to develop a joint training package to support the development of effective job planning locally and to help spread examples of good practice such as those identified in the report.

Notes to Editors

(1) The number of full-time equivalent consultants (including directors of public health) increased from 22,186 in 2000 to 36,965 in 2011 (the latest census available), an increase of 67 per cent. The total NHS workforce increased from 892,620 in 2000 to 1,148,844 in September 2011, an increase of 29 per cent. Figures available at the NHS Health and Social Care Information Centre web site:

The NHS Employers organisation is the recognised body for employers in the NHS, supporting them to put patients first. See for more information.

Follow NHS Employers on Twitter at @nhsemployers or follow Dean Royles, director of the NHS Employers organisation, at @NHSE_Dean; or for medical pay and workforce matters its head of medical pay and workforce, Bill McMillan, at @NHSE_Bill.

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