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National Health Service Consultants

Volume 124: debated on Friday 18 December 1987

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To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what is the annual cost of consultants' contracts for each district health authority in Nottinghamshire.

The 1986–87 annual account of district health authorities within Nottinghamshire records consultants' pay as follows:

District Health AuthorityMedical (£000's)Dental (£000's)
Central Nottinghamshire1,9740
Basset law8633
The hon. Member may wish to contact the chairmen of the health authorities concerned for information on 1987–88.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what information he has as to whether any consultants employed by health authorities in Nottinghamshire are partners or beneficiaries in private homes allocated patients under the Government's community care policy.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services how many consultants are employed by district health authorities in Nottinghamshire on contracts; and how many of these work full-time and part-time for the National Health Service.

The Department collects manpower information on consultants according to employing authority. Regional health authorities hold the contracts of consultants for non-teaching district health authorities (in this case Bassetlaw and Central Nottinghamshire). Central figures are available for the total number employed by regional health authorities but these are not broken down by district. Contracts for consultants in teaching districts are held by the district health authority concerned (in this case Nottingham) and are thus available centrally. The figures for Nottingham are given in the following table. The hon. Member may wish to contact the chairman of Trent regional health authority for more detailed information on the other two districts.

Consultants at 30 September 1986 in Nottingham (T) DHA
Whole-time equivalent84·772·0
Whole-time equivalent1·21·7

Note: Excludes honorary and locum staff.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services if the system for employing consultants has been reviewed by the Government since 1979; and if he will make a statement.

A new consultants' contract was introduced in 1980 following negotiations between the Health Departments and the profession. The longstanding arrangement whereby consultants' contracts are held by regional health authorities (apart from those working in teaching districts) was examined prior to the 1982 restructuring and again in 1983 during the management inquiry but it was decided not to make any changes.

To ask the Secretary of State for Social Services what control regional and district managers have over the case of the time and resources used by hospital consultants; when the terms of contracts of consultants were last reveiwed; and under what circumstances the National Health Service authorities may dispense with the services of a consultant.

Health authorities are responsible for ensuring that consultants fulfil the terms of their contracts and that they organise services to patients in the most efficient and effective way. The present form of consultants' contract, which health authorities are expected to follow closely, was introduced in 1980 as a result of negotiations between the health departments and the profession. Like most other staff, consultants are appointed without term; they can be dismissed on the same grounds (eg. capability, conduct or redundancy) as other NHS staff. Where serious allegations of professional misconduct or professional incompetence are made against a consultant and the outcome might be dismissal, health authorities follow the procedures set out in circular MH(61)112 which makes provision for the establishment of an investigating panel with a legally qualified chairman.