At a time when vacancies for specialists are at a six-year high, Dr Nikki Thompson, the new chairwoman of the British Medical Association's Scottish Consultants' Committee, has expressed concern that health boards are deterring doctors from moving to Scotland by asking them to spend nearly all of their time seeing patients.
Modern consultant contracts ensure senior doctors spend 75% of their week on direct clinical work and 25% on "supporting professional activities" including keeping their skills up to date, teaching trainee medics, working on patient safety initiatives and driving service improvements.
However, Dr Thompson said Scottish health boards had begun advertising job descriptions that tie consultants to clinical work for 90% of the week, leaving four hours for any other work.
She said: "In Scotland the majority of jobs are now advertised with nine sessions of clinical work and one of supporting work, and that is very different from the rest of the UK. Our feeling is it does make jobs unattractive. People will not have the chance to use the full range of skills they have developed to be a consultant.
"It is about professionalism and leadership and enthusiasm and young consultants, especially, are often appointed with huge enthusiasm for improving services and it is a huge shame they are not being offered the chance to use that enthusiasm."
The latest figures show 213 consultant vacancies in Scotland.
A Scottish Government spokeswoman said: "It is for NHS boards to determine how much time they expect consultant staff to spend providing care. Consultant job plans are made up of a combination of direct clinical care and professional activities, such as ongoing education and administration. In some cases, boards have chosen to invest more consultant time in providing frontline care to the patients of Scotland."