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Amend health service Consultant private practice rules

Comment 2nd July 2010

Hospital Consultants are currently allowed to conduct private practice.  Whilst this is arguably fair, rules should be imposed around this as currently the NHS is being strangled by greedy medics who flout the rules which is on a par with the national MP Expenses scandal.

It is not uncommon for a hospital Consultant to be off-site doing private practice work (earning perhaps £1k for a half day work) whilst they should be on-site in their NHS hospital doing study or admin tasks.  They are therefore being paid by the NHS for time and work that is not being done, meanwhile they are off-site earning private income.  This has the effect of reducing the work the hospital can do (as the medic is not available) and increasing waiting lists … which ironically creates a need for private practice facilities!  Is this fraud?  Arguably so.  Would other NHS staff be allowed to work elsewhere whilst they should be onsite doing their (paid) core NHS role? 

Any NHS Consultant should be restricted to doing private practice to a set % of their NHS contracted time, perhaps 10%.  They should be made to publish in annual accounts copies of their defined NHS work plans (contracts) and be made to submit a monthly timesheet that they sign.  This should be audited and any instance of private practice work being found to occur in NHS time result in disciplinary and fine. 

For info, the bottom of payscale for an NHS consultant is around £80k.  Typically with allowances it is not uncommon for this to be 50% more, ie £120k.  Some are more than this.  This is then topped up by private work too.  Extra work for the NHS (eg on a Saturday AM) is paid at a lump sum of around £650 whereas a nurse would be paid a multiple (time and a half) of their hourly rate.  Why is there a disparity?  This is not equitable.

The taxpayer is unknowingly funding working practices that allow some people to financially gain hugely whilst strangling the ability to deliver healthcare.

Why does this matter?

This is important to ensure:

-equity in treatment of NHS staff.

-ensure that the NHS gets efficient use of resources.

-to increase access to healthcare for the population.

-to ensure that public funding is used appropriately and that there is an end to scandalous loopholes in working practice.

-to ensure accountability for use of public money.

-to ensure clarity and visibility of financial reward for public servants (as all Consultants are high earners).


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