An agreement has been reached between NHS Employers and the British Medical Association on terms to renegotiate the consultant contract.

In a joint statement today, both organisations revealed they had agreed on the ‘heads of terms’ scope of areas to consider, paving the way for full negotiations in the autumn.

The draft terms consider contractual changes to bring about an increase in seven-day working for consultants and reforms to the national and local clinical excellence awards.

It also includes a review of consultant pay progression “to reflect the professional development of the consultant and to reward a well-motivated, stable workforce while ensuring it is affordable”.

The draft heads of terms will be consulted on over the summer before a final decision is made to proceed to formal negotiations.

This will require a mandate from both the BMA consultants committee and the Department of Health.

Dean Royles, chief executive of the NHS Employers, added: “This is an important step towards ensuring we have a consultant contract that continues to deliver for patients.

“Recent reports into the quality of NHS services like the Francis report and the Keogh review starkly highlight the importance of safe staffing throughout the week.

“We are hopeful that we can work in partnership to negotiate changes which will be better for doctors, employers and crucially our patients.”

Paul Flynn, chair of the BMA consultants committee said: “Never has it been more important that consultants are empowered to drive forward quality in the NHS.

“We will be considering whether changes to the consultant contract can help this while ensuring that a consultant career is an attractive and rewarding choice.”

An agreement has already been reached to start talks between NHS Employers and junior doctors to alter their contract.

Both sets of negotiations could begin this autumn.