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

NHS director of human resources Andrew Foster has urged primary care trusts to join forces in order to overcome the fact there will be financial 'winners and losers' under the consultant contract.

He said the choice of 'normal capitation' rather than 'one-off ' specific funding dependent on the number of consultants taking up the deal was made as separate allocations for all of the new health service contracts would have proved too complex.

Mr Foster added that strategic health authorities could provide leadership on the issue. 'They can encourage PCTs to pool their resources and redistribute funds if they need to, ' he explained.

Responding to concerns by the British Medical Association that trusts needed to start addressing the issue of job planning for the contract with 'a bit more urgency', he said that it would be acceptable for trusts to miss the end-of-January deadline for completed job plans, but only by 'a week or two'.

The Department of Health will carry out a census of progress next month.

He added: 'There is a huge amount going on. It is not just a case of individual job plans for individual consultants.

'There are trusts where there are large teams, of 40 or 50 anaesthetists for example, and their job plans are interrelated.'

BMA central consultants and specialists committee chair Dr Paul Miller said: 'I certainly know that some trusts are saying quite clearly that they'll be lucky to get it done by the end of March.'

Dr Miller also questioned DoH moves to encourage trusts with low contract uptake to introduce incentive schemes.