Hospital Dr News

Clinical Excellence Awards are set to continue but new ones will be non-pensionable

Clinical Excellence Awards will continue in future and NHS trusts will be obliged to run the scheme for their consultants.

However, from April 2018, new local clinical excellence awards will become non-consolidated and non-pensionable.

The future of CEAs has been far from certain in the BMA’s long-running contract negotiations with NHS Employers, on the behalf of the government.

In 2011, the government unilaterally reduced the funding of the local CEA scheme by over 40%.

More recently some NHS trusts reduced the amount of money paid out even further, while some trusts stopped award rounds completely.

In the initial round of negotiations in 2013, the government attempted to remove and replace the scheme unilaterally, which would have included removing existing awards from all those who already held them.

Instead, today the BMA announced that it has secured the necessary funding to ensure that annual award rounds continue into the future.

The BMA began a legal case to challenge this unilateral reduction in consultant pay. And now, in an out of court settlement, over £300m of annual funding has been secured for consultants in England.

Under the agreement with NHS Employers:

  • all trusts now have a contractual obligation to run annual award rounds and to award all available points, starting in April 2018
  • an increase in the ratio of awards to eligible consultants from 0.2 to 0.3
  • existing Local Clinical Excellence Awards will be retained and remain consolidated and pensionable
  • if national clinical excellence awards are withdrawn following an unsuccessful renewal application, award holders will revert to a local level award in almost all cases
  • from April 2018, new local clinical excellence awards will become non-consolidated and non-pensionable.
  • employer pension contributions will be recycled into new awards to increase the available award pot
  • from April 2021, existing local clinical excellence awards will be subject to a fair, nationally agreed process of renewal.

The BMA said in the longer term it intends to agree a new successor performance pay scheme with NHS employers through national negotiations.

If that is not possible before 2021, then trusts can agree a new local performance pay scheme through consultation with their JLNC.

However, any new scheme must not reduce the funding as this will be set nationally at a value of £7,900 per FTE (Full Time Equivalent) annually with uplifts being subject to the Doctors’ and Dentists’ Pay Review Body Process.

Danny Mortimer, chief executive of NHS Employers, said: “This clarifies the immediate future of local clinical excellence awards for consultants and prepares the ground for further negotiations on wider consultant contract reform and a fully revised clinical excellence awards scheme.

“This is an important step towards the longer-term aim of establishing a local awards scheme more closely aligned with local service priorities.”

Dr Robert Harwood, acting BMA consultants committee chair, said: “We think this is good news for consultants. Existing award holders will keep their awards, which will remain pensionable and consolidated.

“From April 2018, new awards will be non-pensionable and non-consolidated but the total number of awards available each year will increase, making it more likely that consultants who demonstrate excellence will be rewarded.

“CEAs are designed to recognise the exceptional contribution of doctors who find new and innovative ways of improving the quality and delivery of care, benefitting patients and saving the NHS money in the long run.

“We believe that this agreement represents a good deal for consultants and ensures patient care will continue to be improved through the innovation and improvements which CEAs recognise and reward.”

See CEA levels.

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