Headlines: October 18th, 2004

Two-thirds of hospital consultants who have switched to the recently introduced contract say they are satisfied with their new terms and conditions. Interim results from a survey by the British Medical Association also show that six out of ten consultants had transferred to the new contract even though some hospital trusts were still dragging their heels.The survey found that just over a quarter of consultants intended to transfer to the contract and 13 per cent said they would either stay on the old contract or had not yet made up their minds. More than half of the full-time consultants who have moved onto the new contract reported that they were doing 12 programmed activities, or PAs, where one PA is usually equivalent to four hours of work. Almost two-thirds of those doctors believe that fairly reflected their workload. The survey also found 85 per cent of consultants have on-call responsibilities, three quarters of them on the most intensive on call band – Category A.

Most consultants who responded to the survey said they were satisfied with the new contract although some felt it was still too early to judge. A quarter of those who had transferred believed the new terms would help to cut their workloads if they wished to do so. Of the consultants who have not moved onto the contact, but who are intending to do so, most said the delay was due to their hospital trusts not yet having offered a job plan. The most common reason given for not wishing to transfer to the new contract was the belief that it would give managers increased control over their workload.

Dr Jonathan Fielden, Deputy Chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee, said it was heartening to see that so many consultants were satisfied that their contracts reflected the work they actually do and that some were starting to see their work-life balance improve. “There are still some hospital trusts who continue to drag their heels leaving doctors without satisfactory offers. In the next few weeks we will be focusing on these trusts to overcome the delays,” he said.