• As part of a major transparency drive last year, NHS England proposed making every hospital publish a register of consultants’ outside earnings 
  • Bosses concerned that senior doctors were doing lucrative private work
  • Doctors’ leaders said the proposal was a smear on their profession

Ben Spencer Medical Correspondent For The Daily Mail

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Plans to force doctors to declare private earnings have been dropped after an outcry from senior medics.

As part of a major transparency drive last year, NHS England proposed making every hospital publish a register of consultants’ outside earnings.

Bosses had become concerned that senior doctors were passing NHS cases to junior colleagues so they could spend more time on lucrative private work.

Consultants earn an average NHS salary of £112,000 but some make more than £100,000 on top of this.

Consultants earn an average NHS salary of £112,000 but some make more than £100,000 on top of this

NURSES CAN BE GIVEN CHOCS, BUT NOT CASH 

Nurses and other NHS staff should decline offers of cash from grateful patients – but can accept boxes of chocolates, new rules say.

The conflict-of-interest guidance states that ‘modest’ gifts worth less than £50 are acceptable. However, health workers should always turn down money or gift vouchers.

The rules say: ‘Staff in the NHS offer support during significant events in people’s lives.

‘For this work they may sometimes receive gifts as a legitimate expression of gratitude. Modest gifts accepted under a value of £50 do not need to be declared.’

But the guidance, published yesterday by NHS England, said staff should never ask for gifts.

Gifts worth more than £50 can only be accepted for the hospital’s charitable fund, and must be declared immediately. If patients or relatives give several in a year, they should be declined once their total value exceeds £50.

The extra earnings were due to be published in April, despite a backlash from doctors when the scheme was announced in September.

Doctors’ leaders said the proposal was a smear on their profession, and claimed that most consultants did no private work at all. Yesterday, NHS England admitted it had done a U-turn, and said doctors would now only be asked to tell employers ‘where, when and what’ work they had done privately.

The change of heart follows a review of the issue led by NHS England chairman Sir Malcolm Grant.

He proposed in September that hospitals should publish the private earnings in three bands: Less than £50,000, between £50,000 and £100,000, and more than £100,000.

He said it was an ‘area of concern’, adding: ‘Spending decisions in healthcare should never be influenced by thoughts of private gain.’

But Eddie Saville, of the Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association, said at the time: ‘We are seeing a few cases used to misrepresent an entire profession, a majority of whom do no private work.’ 

Yesterday Ian Dodge, director for commissioning strategy at NHS England, said the idea was not popular with consultants, adding: ‘We heard some support for the principle but had a clear message that the way we were proposing to capture that principle was not the best.’

Sir Malcolm said bosses expected all staff to put their NHS duties ahead of private employment. 

Doctors’ leaders said the proposal was a smear on their profession, and claimed that most consultants did no private work at all

The head of the NHS is to investigate GPs who charge patients up to £145 for private appointments.

Two family doctors in Bournemouth have opened a private clinic from their NHS surgery so patients who pay can be seen more quickly.

The GPs insist they won’t treat their NHS patients privately – which is against the rules.

But Simon Stevens yesterday described the scheme as ‘questionable’ and said he would be looking ‘very, very hard’ at similar ones. 

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