Published: 08/01/2004, Volume II4, No. 5886 Page 8

Consultants and specialist registrars in Northern Ireland backed a revised consultant contract this week with an 84 per cent yes vote from a 56 per cent turnout.

Just over 700 doctors opted to accept the deal in a ballot that was suspended and reissued last month due to confusing voting papers containing ambiguous questions.

Consultants now have until next Thursday to inform their managers of their intention to move on to the new contract if they wish to receive backdated pay and increases in seniority. Job plans should be completed by 1 April.

BMA Northern Ireland seniors committee chair Kanwar Panesar said: 'We are optimistic that it will help with the recruitment and retention of consultants within the NHS in Northern Ireland; it should also help boost the morale of our workforce, and this can only be better for our patients.'

Junior doctors committee chair Dr Paul Devine added: 'Specialist registrars are the consultants of the future and this contract will go some way in encouraging them to take up consultant posts within the NHS in Northern Ireland.'