Letter: Heavy NHS workload

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The Independent Online
I SINCERELY hope that your informant about the focus of the current government spending review has got his wires crossed ("Clean-up for NHS merit award system", 3 March). I am astounded at the suggestion that the emphasis of the review is on "concern that some [consultants] are doing too little".

The real problem is that the overwhelming majority of consultants are now doing too much; many are at their wits' end trying to cope with extremely heavy and relentlessly increasing workload. Reductions in junior doctors' hours, an alarming increase in emergency admissions, the drive for faster and faster throughput of patients, shortages of doctors in many specialties and the administrative demands created by a stream of NHS initiatives are all contributing to this pressure, and with their open-ended contracts consultants find more and more responsibilities being piled upon them.

These are the issues that the Government needs to address. Punitive measures aimed at the tiny minority who may not be pulling their weight would serve only to undermine the morale of the hardworking majority on which the NHS depends so heavily.

JAMES N JOHNSON

Chairman

Central Consultants and Specialists Committee

British Medical Association

London WC1

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