§ Mr. George
asked the Secretary of State for Social Services whether she will make a statement on the consultants' industrial action.
§ Mrs. Castle
I am glad to say that after being informed of the text of my two letters of 17th April—of which I have placed copies in the Library—the negotiating sub-committee of the Central Committee for Hospital Medical Services (CCHMS) on that day stated that in the light of the letters' comprehensive content it believed that there was a basis for resuming negotiations; it endorsed the unanimous recommendation of the representatives of the CCHMS that the CCHMS should advise consultants to return to the normal pattern of work and of remuneration which was in operation prior to the dispute. In the light of this, the CCHMS on 18th April 417W recommended that formal negotiations be resumed, without prejudice, and any sanctions at present being imposed should be lifted. Accordingly, the Department advised health authorities on 18th April that, with effect from 21st April, any extra payments to consultants, for which the present contracts do not provide, should cease.
The Hospital Consultants and Specialists Association has written to me rejecting the interpretation of the existing consultants' contract accepted by the Staff Side of the JNC. It has informed me that it is seeking its members' views as to whether sanctions should be lifted and that in the meantime its present sanctions will continue. I have replied expressing the hope that sanctions will be withdrawn without delay. I am placing copies of this correspondence in the Library.