Hospital Dr News

Distinction award scheme in Scotland halted

No new distinction awards will be handed out to consultants in Scotland in next year’s round, the Scottish health secretary has announced.

In 2010/2011, the value of awards was frozen and the only new awards were those freed up by retiring consultants. In 2011/12, the value will continue to be frozen and there will be no new awards made at all, not even from those freed up by retiring consultants.

This effectively halts the scheme pending the outcome of the UK-wide review being undertaken by the Doctors and Dentists Review Body, which is due to report in summer 2011.

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon said the move will save an £2m on top of the £2m already saved by freezing the scheme in 2010/11.

She said: “I recognise the significant cost of distinction awards and my decision to freeze the bonus scheme reflects the need to free up valuable resources that can be redirected to frontline healthcare.

“I have already made clear my view that the current system of consultant distinction awards should be reformed so that we can achieve a fairer and more cost-effective method of rewarding excellence across the NHS.”

It follows the scrapping of this year’s round of Clinical Excellence Awards in Northern Ireland despite having already been launched.

The UK government has already sought to reduce the number CEAs handed out to doctors in the 2011 round prior to the review’s findings.

In the draft guides for the 2011 round of CEAs from the Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards, the government agency that administers them, the ratio used to calculate the minimum level of investment for employer based awards has been reduced from 0.35 to 0.2 per eligible consultant.

BMA Scottish consultants committee chair Lewis Morrison said: “Consultants are stunned by the Scottish government’s U-turn. Doctors recognise that savings need to be made in the NHS, but freezing awards will be a substantial blow to the morale of overstretched consultants at a time when the health service needs more innovation and clinical leadership to maintain high-quality patient care.”

However, Sturgeon added: “It is no longer possible to justify paying significant bonuses even to highly skilled members of the NHS workforce. Bonuses across other areas of the public sector have already been cut and NHS consultants are not exempt from the need for budgetary restraint.”

Scottish Labour health spokeswoman, Jackie Baillie, welcomed the additional savings, but said more needed to be done.

“I have been saying for months now that the Scottish Government does not need to wait for the UK to act on distinction awards and I welcome today’s U-turn from the health secretary,” she said.

Read more on the value of CEAs.

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One Response to “Distinction award scheme in Scotland halted”

  1. pete says:

    Sturgeon says “Bonuses across other areas of the public sector have already been cut”. Note the weasel word ‘cut’, not cut out’. Of course bonuses will still exist. Please dont tell me that hospital CEO’s don’t get a bonus for making their organisation more efficient. And what about the rewards that GPs will be getting for commissioning? OK, CEAs are part of an evil little system which rewards those who skive off to committees, spend their time networking and know how to sell themselves on application forms, but if bankers and businessmen are to continue to get bonuses (and the Govt seems to have gone soft on reining them in) then ultimately if they want performance in medicine they’re going to have to reward accordingly. My own small clinical dept has a budget of £1M. As lead clinician, I know damn well where the savings are to be made without reducing quality. But why should I expend personal energy changing practice to bring about those savings if there’s no reward? I guess, whether silently or outspokenly, that’s the position of most senior consultants. Whereas, if someone came to me and said “Look, make 10% cuts in your dept (ie £100,000) and we’ll give you 10% of that as a one-off payment even(ie £10,000)”, then I’d say to myself “That’s not a bad offer”. That’s business, m’boy, and aren’t they constantly telling us we’ve got to get used to the fact that we’re working in a ‘market’. But no, they’ll never do that because they’re too damned thick.

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