Concerns have been raised by the NHS which found that some NHS doctors devote too much time to private work and in doing so are failing to properly carry out their duties by delegating excessively to junior doctors.
It is alleged that a number of doctors prioritise their private fee-paying work over their publicly funded work thus adding to burgeoning waiting lists by preferentially treating those private clients. It is thought that 23,000 out of 46,000 NHS consultants carry out private work alongside their public practice subsidising their average £112,000 salary. Research into private pay 10 years ago found that an average of £34,000 was earned privately but doctors in places such as Harley Street are able to command far more. The figures that can be earned currently are expected to far exceed these figures even if only inflation rises are included in calculations
The argument against revealing the levels of private pay (up to £50,000; £50,000- £100,000 and over £100,000) is that doctors are carrying out this work outside of their contracted NHS hours so there is no obligation to provide it. The counter-position is that it may be able to be argued that work has not been carried out exclusively outside of NHS contracted hours.
In order to do private work consultants require the permission of their hospital and it retains the ability to refuse this work. Hospitals are therefore already aware of where their consultants are working but not aware of the amount they are paid. The call for this move falls into line with Jeremy Hunt’s ambition to make the NHS more transparent. The benefits of disclosing the amount that NHS consultants earn does little in the way of helping to manage capacity within the NHS. It would appear to provide private information which holds no real importance to the operation of the NHS. The key power remains with the hospitals that employ these senior doctors and are able to look at the capacity that the doctors in their employment have. If there is an issue around extra capacity that is needed they should exercise their powers to refuse leave to doctors to complete private commissions.