There will be a UK-wide review into bonus payments given to NHS consultants, the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley announced today.
Clinical Excellence and Distinction Awards recognise and reward the exceptional contribution of NHS consultants, over and above that normally expected, to the values and goals of the NHS and to patient care. The awards were first introduced in 1948, and some 60 years later the schemes have remained largely unchanged.
The review will bring the awards scheme up to date and in line with other public sector pay schemes. As well as ensuring that the rewards are effective and contribute to improving health outcomes for patients, the review will make sure that the scheme is affordable.
The review, commissioned by the four UK Health Departments, will be led by the independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB). The DDRB will work closely with a range of external stakeholders, including NHS organisations, the British Medical Association and the independent committees which make awards in the devolved administrations.
Andrew Lansley, Secretary of State for Health, said: ‘We want to continue to reward and recognise those individuals who give outstanding patient care and go beyond the call of duty, but we must ensure that the system is effective and affordable. The NHS must recognise its responsibilities in the current financial climate as the largest public service in the country and this review will ensure that Clinical Excellence and Distinction Awards are in line with other public sector pay and incentive schemes.
‘A more transparent and sustainable awards system will allow the NHS to focus its resources to benefit patients and drive up standards to give us a health service that delivers outcomes among the best in the world. If we can find more productive ways of operating the health service, then the benefits will go towards enhancing patient care, increasing patient choice and ultimately improving health outcomes.’
The awards are given for a range of achievements, from research and innovation through to an outstanding commitment to quality of care and leadership. They are consolidated into pay and provide benefits in the pensions and retirement lump sums for consultants.
The review will consider the need for incentives to encourage and reward excellent quality of care, innovation, leadership, health research, productivity and contributions to the wider NHS.
It will also reassess the structure of and purpose for the Clinical Excellence and Distinction Awards Schemes and provide assurance that the system for the future includes a process which is fair, equitable and provides value for money.
Commenting on the review, Heather Lawrence, Chief Executive of Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘I would agree that the current system of rewarding clinical excellence needs to be reviewed. As an employer of over 200 consultants I need to be assured that the arrangements for rewarding excellence are both fair and affordable.’
For the financial year 2009-10, the National Health Service paid £202.2 million to consultants for Clinical Excellence and Distinction awards, of which 564 consultants received new awards, totalling some £20 million. Most of the expenditure on the scheme funds existing awards.
The DDRB has been asked to submit recommendations to the UK Health Ministers by July 2011.
• Staff who are eligible for the Award include fully registered medical or dental consultants. They must be on the specialist register of the GMC or specialist list of the GDC, substantively appointed as an NHS consultant, and have at least one year’s experience at consultant level on 1 April in the award year.