Liberal Democrat Conference: Health - Loyalty fee plea for NHS doctors

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The Independent Online
A PROPOSAL to give NHS consultants higher pay to stop them "moonlighting" and taking on private patients was given enthusiastic support by Liberal Democrats yesterday at a fringe meeting with the BMA.

They backed a plan, being considered by health ministers, to reward consultants who work exclusively for the NHS with an extra pounds 30,000 a year, possibly by taking the money from their controversial system of merit money. Newly appointed consultants earn between pounds 45,0000 to pounds 58,000 with merit awards taking their salaries to between pounds 70,00 and pounds 90,000, and occasionally as high as pounds 120,000.

Joe Walsh, a West Sussex GP, was loudly applauded when he called for consultants to be given higher pay for greater commitment to the NHS.

The Liberal Democrat conference approved setting up a standing conference to review rationing decisions; they would also abolish charges for dental check-ups and freeze prescription charges. Simon Hughes, the party's health spokesman, said there should be a maximum waiting time of six months for serious operations.