Consultant contract welcomed as part of NHS pay deal

13 Jun 02
Health unions have welcomed an offer of fixed pay rises worth 10% over the next three years.

14 June 2002

As Health Secretary Alan Milburn unveiled details of the new hospital consultant contract this week, he said he and the British Medical Association would back a 10%, three-year fixed pay deal for all staff to give the NHS stability while it introduces changes to its pay structure.

The changes and new deal are likely to be implemented next April, and details of the structure are due to be announced later this summer.

The deal, which the NHS Confederation has welcomed, raises consultants' starting salaries to £63,000. The maximum will be £85,250, compared with £68,505 now. It will mean that most of the UK's 26,000 hospital consultants will earn more than £90,000 from their NHS work by 2005.

Dave Prentis, Unison's general secretary, said that the new consultant salary set a benchmark for negotiations on other health professionals' rates.

Milburn hailed the new contract as the first major reform of consultants' terms and conditions since 1948. Under it, they will be prevented from doing private work during NHS time and their working week will be extended by 90 minutes to 40 hours. Consultants' hours will also be timetabled for the first time.

The government had intended to prevent new consultants performing private work during their first seven years, but has tempered its demands. The NHS will get exclusive use of up to 48 hours of consultants' weekly time for the first seven years. This is the maximum permitted under the European Working Time Directive.


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