Consultants threatened with disciplinary action for resisting cost saving measures

Authors: Helen Jaques 

Publication date:  27 Jun 2012

Hospital consultants are being threatened with disciplinary action for resisting cost saving measures that threaten the quality of care, the BMA has said.

The association has received reports of consultants being subject to conduct and competence disciplinary procedures as a result of challenging or resisting service changes introduced for financial reasons rather than to improve the care of patients.

The consultant Roslyn Negrycz told delegates at the BMA’s annual representative meeting that she had heard anecdotal reports of consultants being subject to disciplinary procedures for resisting cost saving measures not only in her troubled Staffordshire area but also in other regions of England.

Informal reports indicate that many more doctors feel too threatened to speak out against cost cutting behaviour that could negatively affect patient care, said Ian Wilson, deputy chairman of the BMA’s Central Consultants and Specialists Committee. “There are clear examples of these appalling things happening, but mostly the real concern is that there are a great many people out there who feel this is a problem but can’t necessarily put their hand up and raise the issue,” he said.

In particular, consultants’ time for supporting professional activities (SPAs) is being seen as an “easy target” to make cost savings and is being driven down at the expense of improving the quality of care, he said.

The chairman of the BMA’s council, Hamish Meldrum, called these reports “completely reprehensible.” The BMA has agreed to seek intelligence from regional industrial relations officers to establish whether there is substance to these reports and, if so, the extent and severity of the problem, with a view to raising the matter with the Department of Health.

Helen Jaques news reporter BMJ Careers

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