Hospitals: Consultants

Department of Health written question – answered on 4th December 2015.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Justin Madders Justin Madders Shadow Minister (Health)

To ask the Secretary of State for Health, how many consultants have opted out of routine weekend working through the schedule 3 paragraph 6 of the NHS consultant contract in the last year.

Photo of Ben Gummer Ben Gummer The Parliamentary Under-Secretary of State for Health

This information is not held centrally.

Schedule 3 Paragraph 6 of the 2003 NHS consultant contract allows consultants to refuse non-emergency work after 7pm and before 7am during weekdays and weekends. The definitions section clarifies that this also applies to emergency work for those consultants whose specialty by its nature involves dealing routinely with emergency cases, e.g. accident and emergency consultants.

NHS trusts hold information on consultant working patterns. However, this information would not reveal how many individuals have relied on the clause to not participate in weekend work as part of their contract, or to work them at expensive locally negotiated rates.

In its 2013 report ‘Managing NHS hospital Consultants’ the National Audit Office (NAO) reported that 91% of trusts who responded to its survey paid for additional work using locally agreed rates, with rates of up £200 per hour reported. The NAO expressed the view that “This is likely to be linked to the fact that the contract allows consultants to refuse to work outside 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday.”

A subsequent report by the House of Commons Committee of Public Accounts concluded that as a result of the opt out, hospitals struggle to provide the appropriate level of consultant-led care for patients.

Does this answer the above question?

Yes0 people think so

No0 people think not

Would you like to ask a question like this yourself? Use our Freedom of Information site.