Review of clinical excellence awards has been delayed for over a year
Authors: Caroline White
Publication date: 02 Aug 2012
Publication of the independent review of clinical excellence and distinction award schemes for NHS consultants has now been delayed for more than a year, causing “unnecessary uncertainty” for consultants, the BMA has said.
The report of the Review Body on Doctors’ and Dentists’ Remuneration (DDRB) on senior doctors’ bonus schemes, submitted to the government on 7 July 2011, will, however, be published later this year, the Department of Health has confirmed.
But doctors’ leaders have demanded a concrete date for publication to end the uncertainty over the long term future of the various incentive schemes for consultants.
A spokeswoman for the health department blamed the delay in the report’s publication on the protracted nature of the negotiations over public sector pensions.
“The DDRB report is complex and far reaching, requiring careful consideration and discussions with the profession,” she told BMJ Careers.
“Until the pensions discussions were completed, it would have been difficult to make constructive progress on the report’s recommendations,” she said, adding: “The pension discussions went on longer than had originally been envisaged, delaying publication.”
However, the spokeswoman refuted the suggestion that the report had been deliberately held back to give the government some bargaining power in the row with the BMA over the hike in doctors’ pension contributions and the increase in retirement age to 68.
In 2010 the health secretary, Andrew Lansley, asked the DDRB to review whether incentives were needed to encourage and reward consultants for providing excellent quality of care, innovation, leadership, health research, and productivity. The review has specifically focused on clinical excellence and distinction award schemes to ascertain whether they were fair and equitable and provide value for money. The review may also make observations (rather than recommendations) on basic pay scales.
As a result of the delay in publication of the report, the 2012 round for national and local awards, which would normally have opened to applications in October 2011, was held up until May this year. The closing date for applications in the 2012 round is 17 August.
Paul Flynn, deputy chairman of the BMA’s Central Consultants and Specialists Committee, said that the delays had caused difficulties for consultants. “This review was commissioned two years ago. The fact that it has been delayed for so long—whatever the reasons—has disrupted the awards round and caused unnecessary uncertainty for consultants,” he said.
“We welcome the fact that there is now at least an indication of the likely timescale for publication, but this has gone on for long enough, and we really need to have a concrete date.
“Obviously, when the report is eventually published consultants are going to see it in the context of other threats to their terms and conditions, in particular the proposed changes to their pensions.”