BBC NEWS Americas Africa Europe Middle East South Asia Asia Pacific
BBCi NEWS   SPORT   WEATHER   WORLD SERVICE   A-Z INDEX     

BBC News World Edition
 You are in: Programmes: World at One: Programme highlights  
News Front Page
Africa
Americas
Asia-Pacific
Europe
Middle East
South Asia
UK
Business
Entertainment
Science/Nature
Technology
Health
-------------
Talking Point
-------------
Country Profiles
In Depth
-------------
Programmes
-------------
BBC Sport
BBC Weather
SERVICES
-------------
EDITIONS
Programme highlights Wednesday, 21 February, 2001, 15:15 GMT
Government angers consultants and GPs
A GP treats a young patient
Morale amongst GPs is claimed to be 'rock bottom'
Hospital consultants have been offered a large carrot - in the hope that they will accept a new type of contract.

The Health secretary, Alan Milburn, has offered the prospect of an extra 10,000 on the starting salary for newly qualified consultants.

Those who continue their commitment for ten years would get two further increases of 10,000.

In return, they would be expected to offer their services exclusively to the NHS for "perhaps seven years".

The proposed deal - which is a vital part of the National Plan for the NHS announced last summer - has met with a frosty reception. If anything, according to Derek Machin of the BMA's consultants committee, it has made matters worse.

Mr Machin complained that the nature of the exclusivity required of new consultants was far from clear.

And his organisation still believed that - as a matter of principle - it was wrong to try to control what consultants did in their spare time.

The Department of Health, which sees the matter differently, said in a statement issued today it is still a matter for negotiation:

"A single scheme that would pay out more in total, increase the number of consultants who get awards, and give most to those consultants who contribute most to the NHS."

This is not the only battle Mr Milburn faces as he tries to push forward his reforms of the way the Health Service is structured.

'More GPs needed'

GPs passed a vote of no confidence in the Government last week. And yesterday, they described as 'the last straw' a decision to cap the increase in GPs' numbers at 1%: this compares with 4.5% for consultants.

Dr John Chisholm, Chairman of the BMA GPs' Committee, told the World at One that morale amongst his members was at rock-bottom. In a recent survey, 71% of family doctors said their confidence in the future was declining.

In the same poll, 54% told researchers that they would not recommend a career in general practice to a 16-year-old.

Faced with this dual assault, Alan Milburn said he hope that both sets of disagreements could be settled by negotiation. The seven-year 'exclusivity' deal was not set in stone, for instance.

"The phrase 'perhaps seven years' is not new - it is what we said in the NHS plan published last July," he said.

Sticking full-time with the NHS would entail additional rewards, he added.

"This is turning on its head the assumption that the way you get on as an NHS consultant is by opting out to do more private practice."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
Dr Derek Machin of the BMA Consultants Committee
questions the link between additional money and exclusivity
Chair of the BMA GP's Committee, Dr John Chisholm
"The background is increasing demoralisation in general practice"
Health Secretary Alan Milburn
"This is a matter for negotiation"
Links to more Programme highlights stories are at the foot of the page.


E-mail this story to a friend

Links to more Programme highlights stories

© BBC ^^ Back to top

News Front Page | Africa | Americas | Asia-Pacific | Europe | Middle East |
South Asia | UK | Business | Entertainment | Science/Nature |
Technology | Health | Talking Point | Country Profiles | In Depth |
Programmes