Consultant contract (2003)

This page contains information on the terms and conditions of service and the model contract for consultants, FAQs and consultant job planning.

13 April 2023

Consultants contract

The consultant contract applies to consultants first appointed after 31 October 2003, as well as those who have chosen to transfer to it.

These handbooks sets out the terms and conditions of service for consultants on the 2003 contract. It incorporates all amendments as at 1 April 2018.

Records of amendments

The changes are highlighted in the main document with superscript numbers.

Consultant job planning

We have worked with the British Medical Association (BMA) to produce a guide to consultant job planning (PDF). The challenges facing the NHS highlight the continued importance of consultant job planning as a means of organising resources effectively and efficiently.

  • A guide to consultant job planning (PDF). 

    Key principles to job planning 

    The guidance above sets out some key principles which should characterise a collaborative approach to job planning. The principles are that job planning should be: 

    • undertaken in a spirit of collaboration and cooperation 
    • completed in good time 
    • reflective of the professionalism of being a doctor 
    • focused on measurable outcomes that benefit patients 
    • consistent with the objectives of the NHS, the organisation, teams and individuals 
    • transparent, fair and honest 
    • flexible and responsive to changing service needs during each job plan year 
    • fully agreed and not imposed 
    • focused on enhancing outcomes for patients whilst maintaining service efficiency. 

    A consultant job plan assembled and agreed in line with these principles will help consultants and managers meet the challenge of delivering high quality care within a testing financial environment during a period of significant organisational change. 

    We encourage NHS organisations to review how job planning can be used to drive improvements and quality of patient care. Some trusts are looking at new IT tools, some at annualisation, others at team or departmental job planning amongst other initiatives. All these have the potential to improve the process and should be explored, but the best way to ensure sound job planning is to focus on objectives.  

    Further information and guidance

  • Our resource, Guide to Contracting for Additional or Extra Programmed Activities (October 2006) (PDF) outlines good practice for contractual arrangements for additional or extra programmed activities (PAs) for consultants.  

    It includes example contracts for: 

    • one regular additional PA for a full time consultant to recognise current workload  
    • twenty annualised extra PAs for a full time consultant to reflect limited update of spare professional capacity  
    • fifteen annualised extra PAs for a part time consultant to reflect limited uptake of spare professional capacity.