A key government health reform has been criticised for costing millions of pounds but bringing few benefits.
The new contract for top hospital doctors cost £90m more than expected and has contributed to NHS deficits, says a report by think tank the King’s Fund.
The King’s Fund looked at what happened at five London hospital trusts after the contracts were signed in 2003. It said implementation was rushed and that the amount of work carried out by consultants had been seriously underestimated.
The report found that despite substantial increases in pay – a 50% rise between 2001 and 2005 – there was little evidence of changes to working practices.
But NHS Employers’ – the body responsible for pay and workforce – defended the contract.
Deputy director Alastair Henderson said: “Implementing the new contract has been a major task and a major achievement.
“NHS Employers believes the contract remains a good tool for rewarding consultants and planning their work to best deliver and improve local patient services.”