NHS consultants in England might be offered the choice of staying on their existing (2003) or moving to the new one (2018).
Negotiators from the BMA’s Consultant Committee have been in talks with government representatives for over two years over a new consultant contract.
The government’s key aim for a new contract has been to secure compliance with running seven-day services in hospitals with no increase in the pay envelope.
Dr Keith Brent, BMA Consultant Committee chair, said that while negotiations on the contract have been “long and complex”, significant progress has been made over the past few months.
This ‘progress’ is chiefly represented by existing consultants being able to exercise individual choice on the contract under which they would work, rather than participating in a ballot on the final offer.
This suggests the government has lost the stomach for another industrial dispute with doctors – which a final ballot approach can encourage.
Brent said: “We have been clear that any such choice would also have to be available to junior doctors as they move to become consultants.”
The consultant committee said there is “still some way to go” before the full details of the proposed offer can be revealed.
It is believed that the government would like the proposed contract to be revealed to consultants by April, with implementation in early 2018.
Brent said: “I am very conscious of the need to set out the detail of the final offer as soon as possible and, once we are in this position, we will be running a series of events to explain and discuss the proposed terms with you.”