Doctors leaders have challenged NHS chief executives to talk to their consultants to learn how to transform the NHS culture.
BMA consultants committee chair Paul Flynn told the annual consultants conference today that help was at hand for health secretary Jeremy Hunt and NHS bosses as they sought to improve the health service in the wake of events at Mid Staffordshire NHS Foundation Trust.
He told the senior doctors: ‘There are experts in clinical care, brimming with ideas and passionate to improve patient care, in every trust in the land — over 40,000 of them.
“They’re even supposed to have part of their job plan allocated to this activity. They’re called consultants, that time is supporting professional activity time, and all trusts have to do is listen to them.”
He called on trust chief executives to “talk to your consultants … sit down with them, ask them how they would improve care and really listen to them. I guarantee it will be time well spent”.
Flynn told consultants that the events at Mid Staffordshire “have demonstrated in a most tragic way the dangers of a system where targets outweigh empathy and where saving money trumps saving lives”.
He warned that the culture of the NHS had not yet changed as it needed to if similar situations were to be prevented, and urged Mr Hunt: “It’s time to ditch the belief that competition is good for our health service, and to embrace collaboration and integration as the only sustainable way forward.”
He assured consultants that the BMA had not given up the fight for fairer NHS pensions and it would continue to press the government through negotiations on contribution rates, the Working Longer Review and its work with other unions.
Flynn said consultants needed to challenge a series of assumptions about excellence award schemes, seven-day NHS working, and pay progression.
He told the conference: “Consultants have a right to expect that in exchange for their commitment to their patients, the NHS will give them a fair contract that rewards excellence and effort in a transparent way.”
He added that there were huge challenges ahead for consultants, but said: “By remaining focused on what will enable us to deliver the highest possible quality of care to our patients, I am confident we can deliver for them and for our profession”.
Read the full speech.