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Pay, fees and allowances

Merit award schemes for consultants

Check the information below about merit award schemes for NHS consultants, including details of value and applications:

The Clinical Excellence Award scheme in England
Commitment awards for consultants in Wales
Distinction awards for consultants in Scotland
Clinical Excellence Awards in Northern Ireland

Clinical Excellence Awards

Background to the CEA scheme

The Clinical Excellence Awards (CEA) scheme is intended to recognise and reward those consultants who contribute most towards the delivery of safe and high quality care to patients and to the continuous improvement of NHS services including those who do so through their contribution to academic medicine.

In particular, awards are made to consultants who: 

  • demonstrate sustained commitment to patient care and wellbeing or improving public health 
  • sustain high standards of both technical and clinical aspects of service while providing patient-focused care 
  • in their day-to-day practice demonstrate a sustained commitment to the values and goals of the NHS by participating actively in annual job planning, observing the private practice code of conduct and showing a commitment to achieving agreed service objectives 
  • through active participation in clinical governance contribute to continuous improvement in service organisation and delivery 
  • embrace the principles of evidence-based practice 
  • contribute to knowledge base through research and participate actively in research governance 
  • are recognised as excellent teachers and or trainers and or managers 
  • contribute to policy-making and planning in health and healthcare 
  • make an outstanding contribution to professional leadership.


Value of awards

Awards can be made for both local and national contributions to the NHS.  Employer-Based Awards Committees (EBAC) assess applications for the employer based awards (levels 1-9). Higher value national awards (9-12) are decided by the Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards (ACCEA) and its subcommittees. A level 9 award may be awarded by either the EBAC or the ACCEA, depending on the type of achievement being recognised.

If you are applying for a national award you should consider carefully whether to submit the same form both locally and nationally. Sometimes forms that you have written in application for national recognition may not reflect appropriate local achievements and it can be difficult to comply appropriately with the rules excluding evidence that has been submitted for an earlier award.

When considering a national application, remember that although the national and local elements exist to recognise excellence, the national process operates to significantly different timescales and rules than does the local process.

Consultants with an existing distinction award or discretionary points keep them, subject to existing review provisions, and are eligible to apply for awards under the new scheme in the normal way. Awards are also pensionable. The value of distinction awards and discretionary points will continue to be uprated in line with the recommendations of the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body.

If a CEA is made, that will subsume the value of any discretionary points or distinction awards already held by the consultant.

The application process normally operates towards the end of the year and is completed before April of the next year, the month in which payment of awards starts.

Further information about the process can be found on the gov.uk website.




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