The plans for seven-day working could see consultants earning bonus payments of up to £30,000 a year on top of their base salary, the government revealed today.
As yet, there has been no mention of additional payments for GPs working at weekends.
The government responded to the petition, which currently has 185,126 signatures, calling for it to debate a vote of no confidence in health secretary Jeremy Hunt.
The response, issued on the parliament UK website, did not mention Jeremy Hunt throughout, but said that “under the new proposals, the highest performing consultants could be able to receive up to £30,00 a year in bonus payments, on top of their base salary".
It said that the vast majority of consultants work “tirelessly for their patients,” but the opt-out allows individuals to “charge employers hugely expensive payments, which are much higher than national contract rates (up to £200 an hour)”.
“Under the new plans, doctors will still continue to receive a significantly higher rate for working unsocial hours and there will be a contractual limit (not an expectation) of working a maximum of 13 weekends a year,” the response read.
It revealed that earlier this month (after a review commissioned by the government last year) the independent pay review bodies for NHS staff identified a major barrier to seven-day services was the “decade old” contractual right that allows senior doctors to refuse to work non-emergency work in the evenings, at nights and at weekends.
“No junior doctor, nurse or other clinical group has any such right [to opt out]. Other senior public sector professionals who work in services required to keep the public safe, such as police officers, firemen and prison governors, do not have this opt out either,” it read.
See the full government response here.