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The BBC's Daniel Sandford
"The frustration of Britain's hospital consultants is growing"
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Thursday, 31 May, 2001, 00:30 GMT 01:30 UK
Senior doctors' NHS warning
Consultants will warn waiting lists are distorting clinical priorities
Consultants will warn waiting lists are distorting clinical priorities
Extra money for the NHS is not getting through to help patients, say the senior doctors running the service.

Consultants from across the UK will speak out at the British Medical Association's consultants' conference in London on Thursday.

Their criticisms of the state of the NHS could prove embarrassing to politicians just days away from the general election.

Many hospital consultants have been angered over the past year by plans to ban newly-qualified colleagues from private practice for their first seven years.

The government is offering compensation to these doctors for lost earnings, and hopes that keeping them entirely within the NHS will improve services there.

'Impossible to deliver'

However, Dr Peter Hawker, chairman of the BMA's consultants' committee, says that the government should work with doctors, not against them.

He is expected to say that delivery of a high-quality service is not possible with the current demands on the NHS.

A government of any colour must avoid "political expediency" or "sound bites", or risk failure in the NHS, he will warn.

He will say: "Let us be clear that quality medical care costs money, quality takes time.

"Currently it is impossible to deliver the high volume of care demanded of us to the quality we know that we can deliver."

The BMA says that even with record levels of planned investment, trusts are still being asked to make 3% annual efficiency savings.


Doctors from the south western regional consultants' committee have brought a motion asking doctors' leaders to "take every opportunity to inform our 'political masters' that with current resources and staffing levels quality and quantity is a circle that cannot be squared".

Dr Peter Hawker:
Dr Peter Hawker: "Battle between quality and quantity of work"
East Anglian consultants are proposing a motion which states: "Considering the vast resources the Government says it is putting into the NHS, it is distressing to senior hospital doctors to see how small a portion (if any) is actually arriving to the workforce or the patient's bedside."

Dr Hawker feels there is no quick solution to the problems of the NHS because of the time delay involved in getting in new staff and equipment.

"There is little point having 250 MRU scanners unless we also have the radiographers to operate them.

"The NHS is not the envy of the world but the quality of our medical staff, nurses and other staff could make it so."

Consultants will also criticise waiting lists, which they say distort clinical priorities and long term planning.

No confidence motion

The consultants will also discuss the effectiveness of the General Medical Council (GMC).

For the second year running, they will consider a motion of no confidence in the medical regulatory body.

The conference will also discuss calls for the reform and restructuring of the council.

At last year's conference, the senior doctors passed the vote of no confidence in the council, saying it was "badly out of touch" with the public, profession and Parliament.

The conference will also debate changes to the way consultants work, how the medical profession is policed, and how quality in the NHS is maintained.

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See also:

21 Feb 01 | Health
Ban on consultants' private work
18 Dec 00 | Health
How hospital doctors are paid
18 Oct 00 | Health
Consultants to get pay bonus
16 Aug 00 | Health
Consultants 'reject NHS Plan'
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