There have been a number of articles in the media lately about the threat to Clinical Excellence Awards, which are being reviewed by the Doctors and Dentists Review Body at the request of the Health Secretary. (1) (2) (3) (4)
The articles reveal differing viewpoints about CEAs but all seem to agree that those Hospital Consultants in receipt of an award are going to lose out. There is certainly likely to be a cut in their value and some advocate total abolition. The pensionable nature of the extra pay is also likely to be lost.
There is unlikely to be much opposition to the loss of CEAs as far as the general public is concerned. First of all we (hospital consultants) are widely perceived as being very well paid. With the top increment (£100,400pa) being over three times the national average wage it would be hard to argue with that perception. With the current attitude towards bonuses (which is what CEAs are) the government could abolish CEAs altogether with the strong support of most of the population.
Also bearing in mind what has happened to the pension schemes of millions of workers in the private sector, doctors who whinge about their pensions and the effect of the loss of CEAs on their pensions are going to get precious little sympathy.
Nor can I see a socialist opposition in Parliament being able to stomach supporting us on this issue.
In his article in “Hospital Doctor” Mike Broad makes the naive assumption that the Consultant Body as a whole is in favour of retaining the present system. Well he should hear the carping and whining in my hospital when the awards are announced. The truth is there is much opposition to CEAs within the consultants themselves. There is widespread perception of iniquity, racism, sexism, cronyism and even corruption, in the awarding of CEAs. I know of a number of good hard working consultants who refuse to apply on principal. As one of them put it, “I would rather my colleagues express surprise that I don’t get one, than outrage that I do.” Dr Broad opines that the only consultants who would support the government are those who don’t get a CEA. Oh well that is only 65% of them then.
Dr Broad’s ultimate naivety is in expecting the BMA to rise to this “enormous challenge”. Unfortunately for the BMA to do this they would require two things they don’t have. 1. A backbone, and 2. the strong support of the majority of NHS consultants, many of whom don’t get an award and never will. Face it the rank and file are not going to go to war to protect the bonuses of the privileged minority.
Dr Broad urges consultants to communicate their opposition to the loss of CEAs to the Health Secretary. I would advocate that the many consultants who have no such opposition should also communicate their views.