Making consultants like barristers Last week's central consultants'and specialists'committee conference saw the launch of a British Medical Association discussion document on the possibility of consultants working in chambers, in the same way as barristers, to provide services for the NHS.The BMA said the paper had been produced because of greater interest in the role of the private sector in the NHS.It also said it was a response to proposals to tie newly appointed consultants to an exclusive contract with the NHS.However, it made it clear it was not intended to be a part of contract negotiations.

The paper concludes that self-employed status would be viable, particularly if the government was not hostile.It says it would give consultants the opportunity to cut down on non-clinical work, but warns that medical teaching would suffer.

Changing the Contractual Status of Consultants.BMA.Discussion paper 7. www. bma. org. uk/public/polsrefs. ns