The government has jumped the gun and is seeking to reduce the number of clinical excellence awards (CEAs) handed out to doctors in the 2011 round before hearing the recommendations of its recently launched review.
The BMA has received draft guides for the 2011 round of CEAs from the Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards, the government agency that administers them. It shows that the Department of Health has changed the formula used to calculate the minimum level of investment for employer based awards reducing the ratio from 0.35 to 0.2 per eligible consultant.
If this change is implemented it will significantly reduce the level of investment and number of employer based awards made in 2011.
Last month the government launched a review into the CEA system across the UK with a view to making them more ‘affordable’. It’s being led by the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration and will report by July 2011.
Dr Mark Porter, chairman of the BMA’s consultants committee, said: “We are concerned that such action would be proposed before the current review of reward schemes has been completed.
“We would like to assure doctors that we are working to oppose this suggested change. We have written to the Secretary of State for Health, Andrew Lansley, to make our objection clear and we are exploring the legal position.”
There is already a freeze in place on the individual amount of each CEA for 2010/11, which was recommended by the DDRB earlier this year when it also said consultants wouldn’t receive a pay rise. The CEA freeze will continue for 2011/12 and 2012/13.
Furthermore, this attempt to restrict the number of awards handed out locally follows a reduction in national awards handed out this year. There was a halving in the number of new national awards in the 2010 round. Only 317 national awards were given to senior doctors in England and Wales in comparison to 601 in 2009.
Stephen Campion, chief executive of the HCSA, said that while it would like to work with the government to make the scheme more relevant to the NHS, this move represents another pay cut.
“It is clear that many consultants will feel undervalued and disillusioned by being targeted in this way. This heavy-handed style of government will impact badly on the goodwill, morale, cooperation, recruitment and retention of senior hospital doctors.”
In 2009-10, the NHS paid £202.2 million to consultants through the CEA scheme. Most of the expenditure on the scheme funds existing awards.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “The independent Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards is expected to publish guidance on the 2011 round shortly. The Department will not be making any comment in advance of that publication.”
Read a blog on the issue.
Pay and CEA scales.