BMA back round the table for consultant contract reform

11 Sep 15

The British Medical Association has said it will return to negotiations with NHS England over a new contract for hospital consultants intended to reflect moves to seven-day working across the health service.

The BMA ended talks in October 2014 citing insufficient safeguards for hospital doctors’ working hours in the proposed reforms. There was also a lack of reliable data to plan for the changes, which could remove the right of doctors to opt-out of weekend working.

However, in a statement today, the doctors’ union said government had now agreed to improved contractual safeguards and a data gathering exercise.

Reforms to the consultant contract have been one of the priorities of health secretary Jeremy Hunt, who warned in July the government could impose changes later this year if negotiations did not take place.

Responding to today’s announcement, a Department of Health spokesman said: “It is a positive step that the BMA has agreed to negotiate on a new consultant contract.

“Talks will begin as soon as possible. We hope an agreement can be reached quickly and the BMA will put the new contract positively to their members. The evidence of the weekend effect in hospitals and the need to remove the opt-out are very clear.”

The BMA also announced that the Welsh Government needed to indicate whether it intended to revert to a common contract with England or retain a standalone Welsh contract.

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