Published: 27/05/2004, Volume II4, No. 5907 Page 35

To say the creation of a new NHS contract for consultants has been difficult is something of an understatement.

The process has seen public spats between the British Medical Association and the government over its terms, and resignations from medical directors over its implementation.

A fresh problem reported by some trusts, particularly 'tertiary' types such as children's hospital trusts, with regard to research time in job plans for consultant clinical academics, has prompted new guidance from the Modernisation Agency.

Most of the guidance is intended to help the individual consultant prepare their job plan for discussion with the relevant managers, but will also be useful to both medical and academic managers.

The guidance describes what information the job plan should include, who should be involved in developing it and how it should be reviewed on an annual basis.

Separate checklists on what information should be included in the job plan and subsequent review is provided for clinical and academic responsibilities.

It also includes checklists as guidance for medical and academic managers in terms of the knowledge, information and skills they must have to assist job planning and review processes effectively.Advice on how to conduct successful job planning meetings is also included.