A consultant suspended from his job for more than a year has called on health ministers to release a review of disciplinary procedures, ordered a year ago.

Consultant radiologist Dr Anil Jain, who was accused of carrying out an unauthorised audit of cancer screening at Northampton General Hospital, said the long-delayed report was 'urgently needed'.

Dr Jain's comments were echoed by Northampton General Hospital trust chief executive David Wilson.

'It would be immensely useful if there could be changes to the current system. Here we are a year on, and only a little bit further on.'

Health secretary Alan Milburn, then health minister, ordered the review of consultant suspensions in October last year. In June, health minister John Denham said the report had been incorporated into proposals for tackling poorly performing doctors.

But this has not been published either, despite leaks earlier this year suggesting that the government was planning to set firm time limits for dealing with suspended doctors.

Department of Health officials this week said the report was unlikely to come out before Christmas. Chief medical officer Professor Liam Donaldson is still working on the proposals for underperformance.

Dr Jain said consultants and managers needed quick action to reform a disciplinary system that 'is clearly a waste of public money'.

'To keep a consultant on suspension for more than a year is not helping anyone, ' he said.

Mr Wilson said the current processes were 'long and tortuous for both sides'.

He added: 'In the meantime, the work has to be covered and there is someone sitting at home when they could be contributing.'

Dr Jain won up to£2,500 in legal costs from the trust earlier this year in a dispute over its compliance with its own disciplinary process.

Mr Wilson said the 'precursors to the disciplinary process' had been almost completed in Dr Jain's case.

The procedure had been delayed by a review of the hospital's breast cancer screening service.

The DoH was also unable to provide the figures it collects on the number of suspended consultants this week.