NHS Employers has threatened to close the medical consultant contract to new doctors or those changing jobs following last week’s breakdown in pay negotiations with the British Medical Association.
The employer organisation also warned of “complete removal” of the Clinical Excellence Award regime after the BMA pulled out of talks ahead of a government deadline this month.
NHS Employers, which negotiates on behalf of NHS trusts and the government, said it was now “more likely” that ministers would ask the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Review Body to examine changes to contractual terms and conditions which relate to seven day services and junior doctors.
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This body would then be expected to come up with recommendations that could then be imposed by the government on the medical profession.
Talks collapsed last week after they were abandoned by the BMA consultant and junior doctor committees, claiming that employers had not given details of safeguards against long working hours or provided specific data modelling showing the effect of proposed changes on their members.
NHS Employers said it had been preparing for further talks and had offered a “package of safeguards”, which included contractual protections for working hours.
In its latest published statement NHS Employers said that without negotiations restarting, closing the consultants’ contract to new entrants and those taking up new posts “would need to be considered”.
“This would eventually lead to a need to move remaining contract holders to the new arrangements by some mechanism, over a reasonable period of time,” it said.
While locally negotiated changes were unlikely, NHS Employers said changes to the clinical excellence award scheme “including complete removal, are now a risk following the ending of the talks”.
Dr Paul Flynn, Chair of the BMA’s Consultant’s Committee, said: “We have always believed that a properly negotiated national contract is in the best interests of patients, consultants and their employers. We remain committed to reaching an agreement and instead of negotiating in public the Government should be working with us to find solutions to the legitimate patient safety concerns that consultants have raised and agree a contract that is good for patients, fair for doctors and good for the NHS.”