BMA took legal action to keep doctors’ bonus scheme

Authors: Abi Rimmer 

Publication date:  05 Feb 2018

The BMA has taken legal action against the government over incentive payments for doctors, which it says are part of a doctor’s contract and therefore should not be changed without negotiation. The action, which has now been put on hold, was part of ongoing negotiations on changes to the consultant contract in England.

BMA negotiators and the government have been discussing the possibility of reaching an agreement outside court that would allow consultants to retain their existing awards under the new contract, the BMA said. The government says that the awards are non-contractual and so don’t need to be retained in the terms of the new contract.

Clinical excellence awards—payments designed to reward outstanding work by consultants—have been awarded under the current scheme since 2003.

The BMA is also working with the government to develop a new system for performance related pay under the new consultants contract. Unlike the clinical excellence awards, the payments would be time limited and non-pensionable.

“Payments would also have a stronger link to the objectives of trusts and include protection for existing award holders,” the Department of Health and Social Care said.

In a report submitted to the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB), the department said that the legal claim had “complicated” the negotiations, and it denied that the awards were contractual.

A BMA spokesperson said it was working with the government “to develop a successor awards scheme which continues to encourage and fairly reward excellence across several domains.”

Overall, the negotiations on the contract, which began in 2013, had been positive and constructive, said the department. “The parties are focused on developing a cost neutral offer that can be jointly endorsed and collectively agreed,” it said.

Abi Rimmer The BMJ

Cite this as BMJ Careers ; doi: