Doctors’ deal ‘failed to boost work rate’

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A LANDMARK deal handing a huge pay rise to top hospital doctors failed to increase their productivity, a study finds today.

NHS consultants won a 27 per cent pay rise in 2003 but a 10-year study by experts at York University found their productivity fell despite expectations the deal would lead to significant increases.

Prof Karen Bloor, from the university, said numbers of inpatients being treated had grown but not as fast as numbers of consultants.

She said: “Claims made that the consultant contract, which resulted in substantial pay increases for hospital specialists in England, would result in increased clinical activity have not materialised.

“Indeed, in half the specialties studied, a reasonable interpretation of the statistics is that productivity has declined.”

Prof Alan Maynard, who co-authored the study published today in the Journal of the Royal Society of Medicine, said levels of work carried out by consultants had not increased despite levers in the contract allowing this to happen.

“The contract has not been implemented fully by NHS managers,” he added.

Meanwhile, health service leaders yesterday issued a plea for action to prevent NHS trusts sliding into financial chaos. The NHS Confederation called for funding to be set aside for the upfront costs of major changes to services.

Its chief executive, Mike Farrar, said: “We need financial investment that acts as a long-term incentive to create sustainable services in the right place for patients, not a short-term bail-out that is seen as the easy way out.

“We are concerned that the closer we get to the next General Election, the more difficult it will be for NHS organisations to make vital changes to local services.

“NHS organisations need the freedom to act in the best interests of patients and taxpayers. It will be essential they can work openly and honestly with local politicians and the public to bring about change that is in everyone’s best interests.”