NHS chief heckled by doctors over £50m delay

Last updated at 17:37 13 June 2007

The head of the NHS was today heckled by doctors angry at a delayed £50 million contract.

Chief executive David Nicholson was also accused of using the money to balance the health service's books.

Addressing a conference of staff grade doctors in London, he said he would "get the NHS back on track" and speed up the contract.

The country's 12,500 staff grade doctors - hospital medics who do not have consultant status - are the only group not yet to be awarded new pay and conditions.

About £50million was set aside but it has been waiting for Treasury approval since Christmas, despite Mr Nicholson's announcement this month that the NHS is £500million in the black.

Mr Nicholson said the NHS was "in a strange place" because although clinical practice was

"better than everî, doctors were angry.

"It is a place of some difficulty, particularly with the contract, it has got stuck. I'm hopeful we will be able to unstick it in a few weeks," he said.

But he was accused of using the contract funds

to help troubled NHS finances. Dr Rodney Price, from Yorkshire, said the contract was now not worth the glossy paper it was on because it had been dictated not negotiated.

"When Mr Nicholson disagreed he was heckled with shouts of "not true".

His speech followed claims by Mohib Khan, chair of the British Medical Association's staff grade doctors committee, that £50million had disappeared.

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