Senior doctors have hit back after being told they will have to declare their income from private work for the first time under plans to improve transparency.
Every hospital will be made to publish a register of consultants’ outside earnings from April in a move it is claimed would avoid potential conflicts of interest.
Some senior consultants are concerned about the timing of the announcement, which comes as they are negotiating their new contract with the Government and amid the dispute with junior doctors.
Mr Neil Tolley, chairman of the London Consultants Association, told i: “I’m very suspicious about the motivation of why this has been put out now. That’s my personal view.
”I cannot help but come to the conclusion that this is all about the impending negotiations over the consultant contract and that there is an attempt to use this as a tool to put consultants in a bad light when these negotiations come to the fore in the weeks ahead.“
About half of England’s 46,000 NHS consultants are thought to carry out private work on top of the average basic salary of £89,000 a year. NHS England is involved in a wider push to improve transparency in the NHS.
Doctors say their contracts mean they have to offer extra time to the NHS before they can do private work, which they have to agree with their trusts as part of their contracted job plan.
Eddie Saville, chief executive of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association said he was ”bemused“ by the timing of the statement. He said the ”large majority“ of NHS hospital doctors do not carry out private work.
He said: ”Doctors work hard, often way beyond their basic hours, for the NHS and this is just the latest misrepresentation of the entire profession where a few individual examples are used to suggest that all hospital doctors are somehow in it for personal gain.
“Where NHS hospital doctors do carry out private work, this will have been formally agreed with their trusts as part of their contracted job plan.
“The real problems facing our hospitals are related to under-funding in the face of rising demand. This measure will do nothing to address low morale, rising patient numbers, recruitment freezes and staff shortages.”
Dr Keith Brent, BMA consultant committee chairman, said the vast majority of consultants are ”dedicated professionals“ who work beyond their contractual hours to deliver NHS care.
Alan Taman, a spokesman for campaign groups Doctors for the NHS and Keep Our NHS Public, said more people are choosing to ‘go private’ in the face of an NHS that is falling apart through under-funding.
He said: ”We call on the Government to ensure the NHS is protected against cuts and privatisation.“
Sir Malcolm Grant, the chairman of NHS England, who carried out a review on the issue, told The Times that private work had been ”under the radar“ for too long but denied it was an attempt to restrict private work by consultants.
Source: i News