'The consultants' rejection of their proposed new contract makes it clear that there has been a major breakdown in trust between doctors, managers and the Government in England and Wales,' The King's Fund chief executive Rabbi Julia Neuberger said today.
'The nature of the consultants' vote shows that the foundation for a new accountability framework for senior doctors has yet to be built. Too many consultants evidently believe that their autonomy would have been compromised too strongly under the proposed contract.
'The challenge now is to open a new dialogue about how a modern consultants' contract can be created. Doctors must accept that they cannot continue with the same level of autonomy as they have presently, and government should be aware that it cannot impose a new contract without further open and honest discussion. To do so, without reassuring doctors that their concerns will be addressed, would be counter-productive.
'In the next few months, it is vital that the representatives of doctors, managers, patients and the government work together to agree a new way of managing the work of senior hospital doctors. All of them share a strong motivation to modernise the NHS. To achieve that, hard work will be needed to restore goodwill so that all of the parties can work together to define and deliver a patient-focused health service.'
Notes to editors:
1. For interviews with The King's Fund staff please contact Andrew Bell on 020 7307 2585 or 07831 554931 or Daniel Reynolds on 020 7307 2581.