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Hospital Healthcare Europe

NHS should value the innovation and leadership of consultants, says BMA Scotland

4 June, 2009  

BMA Scotland has called on the NHS in Scotland to value the clinical leadership offered by consultants in Scotland in order for patients to benefit from developments and innovations in healthcare. To do this, they say, the NHS needs to plan and invest in a consultant workforce that can lead the NHS and deliver the best care for patients.  

The calls came as BMA Scotland published a report, Consultants in NHS Scotland: at the heart of patient care, which highlights the significant contribution made by consultants to the NHS in Scotland.

Dr Charles Saunders, chairman of the BMA’s Scottish Consultants Committee, said: “Doctors believe that patients deserve an NHS which delivers safe, cost-effective care led by highly trained consultants.

“We expect future public sector spending to reduce in real terms so it is important to get the best value out of the NHS without compromising patient care. Managers will benefit from encouraging and facilitating consultants to use their experience, practical knowledge and understanding of their patients to innovate and develop services within the NHS. This is the most efficient way to get best value from our NHS.  

“Consultants represent incredible value for money. By investing in a consultant-delivered service, NHS boards will benefit from a reduction in unnecessary investigations, unnecessary follow-up appointments and diminished admission rates.”

The report includes 17 case studies from NHS consultants working around Scotland.

Dr Saunders continued: “Thousands of hardworking and committed consultants make a real difference to patients every day of every year. This report demonstrates the wide-ranging tasks and roles undertaken by consultants, highlights the various skills needed to be a consultant and shows why their leadership in clinical care is essential for the NHS in Scotland.”  
“The case studies included in the report do not pick out the exceptional, but simply illustrate the work that consultants do each day across NHS Scotland. Consultants want to improve services for patients, but many have reported the challenge of implementing changes. It’s largely down to their persistence, dogged determination and leadership that these services have developed to the benefit of their patients.”

The application of the 48-hour European Working Time Directive in August this year to doctors in training will have a direct impact on the medical workforce. The BMA believes that there needs to be a continued expansion of consultants to fill the consequent service gap left by fewer numbers of medical trainees.