Hospital Dr News

Government tries to slash CEAs before review

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.

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6 Responses to “Government tries to slash CEAs before review”

  1. Malcolm Morrison says:

    Yet another example of our ’employers’ (the Govt. of the day) unilaterally breaching (or should I say ‘amending’?) our contract.
    There are many issues around CEAs, or ‘Merit Awards’ as they used to be called; but both appear to be misnomers as some recipients are accused by their peers of having neither ‘merit’ nor ‘clinical excellence’! However, most of us would accept that some doctors are ‘better’ than others: so, if they are to be rewarded, some sort of ‘extra pay’ system is needed
    If doctors are going to be critical of bankers’ big bonuses (as many are) then it is difficult to defend a bonus of 100% (the A+ award) – for the rest of one’s career! Should awards be ‘for life’? Or for a limited period? Should they be for ‘clinical’ work or for research &/or committee work at local or national level? Should selection be by one’s peers or should ‘managers’ be involved? It is to be hoped that the ‘review’ would have tackled all these issues; but it is not unusual practice for Governments to order an investigation, review, commission or even a working party and then to decide what they are going to do before the results are available – such behaviour might prove disasterous in clinical practice!
    One other point. It is usually accepted that these awards are for those who ‘go beyond the call of duty’ – often work done ‘outside contracted hours’. So, if one is not allowed to work more than 48hrs (due to the EWTD), how can anyone earn an award without falling foul of the Directive?!
    Retired Orthopod

  2. Dr Scott says:

    I’m trying for a mere Bronze Award, but it seems now that after 15 years of dedicated service to the NHS and maintaining good clinical outcomes, improving the quality of life for countless patients despite the vast number of pressures imposed upon us, that my efforts will all be in vain. The goalposts have been moved yet again. Only the handful who somehow have made gains in Research and Publication seem to achieve any recognition. The larger number of us who spend all our time delivering a high-quality service and struggle to train doctors despite policies that cripple our opportunities to do so, will receive neither thanks nor recognition for it. Just another morale-crushing policy that will drive me into early retirement – I’m leaving just as soon as I can.

  3. fox in sox says:

    While I am sure that CEA’s could be managed more equitably, to unilaterally reduce them like this before the review is unfortunate. Understandable in view of the massive budget crisis brought about by the Labour Party, but unfortunate.

    Once again the industrious are penalised in modern Britain, higher taxes and lower pay.

    Could be worse though, some of our Nurses have been made redundant.

  4. Steth says:

    Difficult to understand why the medical profession cannot grasp the fact that CEAs are but one part of the overall pay packet for doctors. Cutting down the number/value of CEAs is simply a pay cut for the medical profession whether or not any individual gets one. If they are now to be seen as an anachronism, and I am one who does so, they should be redistributed into the annual salary progression, dependent on job planning, performance review etc etc. Incentives to participation in quangos in London etc, if needed, will require funding from elsewhere – the Royal Colleges etc.

    If other healthcare workers want their own CEAs then let them revise down their own salaries leaving the residue to redistribute.

  5. Dr J Hart says:

    In the present time, it is more appropriate than ever that the government address the issue of CEAs as recommended by Dr Ian McKee in March 2010.

    http://www.hospitaldr.co.uk/blogs/our-news/new-call-to-scrap-consultants-clinical-excellence-awards

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