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Consultants’ bonuses under review

Secretary of state for health Andrew Lansley announced today that there will be a UK-wide review into bonus payments given to NHS consultants. The Clinical Excellence and Distinction Awards were introduced in 1948 to recognise and reward the contribution of NHS consultants over and above that normally expected and have remained largely unchanged ever since.

This review aims to bring the awards up to date and in line with other public sector pay schemes. Commissioned by the four UK Health Departments, it will be led by the independent Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB).

[quote bottom=said Lansley]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[/quote]

Heather Lawrence, chief executive of Chelsea and Westminster NHS Foundation Trust, agreed that the system needs to be reviewed, saying: "For the financial year 2009-10, the NHS paid £202.2m to consultants for Clinical Excellence and Distinction awards, of which 564 consultants received new awards, totalling some £20m. As an employer of over 200 consultants I need to be assured that the arrangements for rewarding excellence are both fair and affordable."
The DDRB has been asked to submit its recommendations by July 2011.