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Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has said he is prepared to impose compulsory seven-day working on hospital doctors in England.

Under the current contract only consultants in A&E are expected to work weekends or evenings, and the remainder can opt out if they are asked to work outside the hours of 7am to 7pm Monday to Friday. Mr Hunt has said he is prepared to enforce changes if necessary by imposing a new contract on newly-appointed consultants.

The move, which threatens to damage relations with the medical profession, has been described by British Medical Association leader Dr Mark Porter as being "too simplistic".

Commenting on the Heath Secretary’s statements, Nick Simpson, CEO of specialist healthcare recruitment consultancy, MSI Group, said;

“As an organisation which is on the front line of recruitment into the NHS, we understand the direct correlation between timely access to senior clinical professionals and patient safety. On this basis, we welcome proposals to extend the availability to access to consultants within hospitals. However, consultants don’t work in a silo.

“MSI Group supports the British Medical Association’s position that improved care at weekends rests not only on the shoulders of consultants, but also on support services such as diagnostics, pathology and radiology as well as surgical teams. The question is, is there the resource - and supply of talent - to realise Hunt’s vision?

“The UK is already experiencing a national shortage of permanent A&E consultants, sonographers and HPC registered radiographers, and any increase in demand will only exacerbate current talent shortages. Negotiating permanent consultants’ contracts is only one facet to creating a truly ‘seven day NHS’ – we must also consider wider workforce planning strategies.”

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Notes to editors:

Founded in 2002, MSI Group is a leading supplier of frontline healthcare professionals, senior healthcare managers, pharmaceutical, medical device and life science staff. Clients include the NHS and other public, private and third sector organisations across 14 countries.

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