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Consultant award schemes

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The Clinical Excellence Awards (CEA) scheme in England and Wales 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. This includes those consultants and senior academic GPs who do so through their contribution to academic medicine. CEAs don't apply in Scotland and NI, more details on the position in the nations is available below.

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.

The BMA has recently reached an agreement with NHS Employers and the Department of Health & Social Care concerning changes to the Local (Employer-Based) Clinical Excellence Awards scheme in England.

Read further information about this agreement

  • Apply for a BMA citation for your CEA application (England and Wales)

    The 2019 Clinical Excellence Awards in England and Wales opens on Thursday 7 February 2019 and will close at 5pm on Thursday 4 April 2019. For those who are thinking of applying for new awards and/or renewals we suggest start working on your application. 

    View the 2019 ACCEA guides
    Download the ACCEA application forms

    If you work in England or Wales and plan to submit a CEA application for a higher award and would like to seek BMA support, please submit your application by email by 9am on Tuesday 5 March 2019 for consideration.

    The BMA’s CEA group will consider it and offer a citation for selected applications. In line with ACCEA’s Guide for Nominators, the group will be looking for notable applications which are both of a high standard of clinical excellence and show notable contributions to BMA work.

    As ever, we receive a number of applications and these will be ranked using ACCEA’s scoring and on the applicant’s contributions to the work of the BMA. Only applications which score the most highly in both areas will be supported.

    The date and level of your last award is essential information and you must also include a short paragraph (max 250 words) on the work you have done for the BMA.

    Please note that this year we are only able to offer the process of considering applications for supporting citations; there will be no process for offering feedback on the applications. Once you have submitted an application to us for consideration for a supporting citation we will notify you on further steps.

    All candidates are responsible for submitting their CEA application form to ACCEA as per the instructions in ACCEA’s Guide for Applicants. The ACCEA secretariat will confirm receipt of application. The onus will be on the applicant to chase up any application that has not received such a receipt.

  • 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 website.



  • CEA pay scales


     Awarded by local committees

    Awarded by Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards (ACCEA) £

    Level 1 


    Level 2 


    Level 3


    Level 4 


    Level 5 


    Level 6 



    Level 7 


    Level 8 


    Bronze or Level 9 



    Silver or Level 10   


    Gold or Level 11   


    Platinum or Level 12  


  • CEAs in Northern Ireland

    Consultants in Northern Ireland have been denied new CEAs (clinical excellence awards) in a move that the BMA says will further damage staff morale.

    Health minister Simon Hamilton said no new CEAs would be made for the 2012-13 round, and that there would be no applications taken for 2013-14.

    Read the news story - Consultants denied clinical excellence awards

    Check the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety for more detailed guidance on CEAs

  • Scotland: distinction awards and discretionary points

    Distinction awards

    The distinction awards process in Scotland has been frozen since 2010. Since then, there has been no increase in the value of awards, no new awards and no progression through the award scheme.

    The Scottish Advisory Committee on Distinction Awards (SACDA) undertakes the five-yearly review of distinction awards for those who already hold awards. Further information can be found on the SACDA website.


    Discretionary points

    All consultants who have reached point five of the pay point scale are eligible for consideration. Distinction award holders are ineligible. Consultants granted discretionary points are not normally considered again for two years, although employers and the profession locally may vary this provision.

    There is no nationally agreed procedure for determining how applications for discretionary points should be made and arrangements may vary from employer to employer. Most employers have adopted a procedure following agreement with the LNC (local negotiating committee).

    SEHD Letter to chief executives regarding changes to the discretionary points system, 12 January 2000 (PDF)

    NHS Circular PCS (DD) 1995/6 Consultants’ Discretionary Points (PDF on SEHD website)

    The Scottish Government has confirmed in line with the consultant contract that discretionary points will be paid from 1 April 2019 for work done in 2018-19. Boards have therefore been asked to put in place the necessary arrangements to enable these payments to be made.

  • Commitment awards in Wales

    In Wales, with the introduction of the amended contract in December 2003, the existing discretionary points and distinction awards were replaced by new commitment and clinical excellence awards schemes.

    The new award schemes are transparent, fair, based on clear evidence, open and accessible to all consultants. They better reward those consultants who continue to contribute effectively to service delivery and patient care on a sustained basis, and those who contribute most to the NHS, recognising their contribution to innovation and modernising the service.

    The award schemes support the practical application of skills and knowledge (including teaching and research) for the benefit of patients and are related to a satisfactory appraisal and job plan review. The awards are reviewed regularly, to ensure a fair distribution between academic and non-academic award holders and to recognise innovation and modernisation.

    The scheme comprises a regular progression of commitment awards available to all consultants throughout their career, once they have reached the top of their incremental scale, who have demonstrated their commitment to the service by satisfactory job plan reviews or by the absence of unsatisfactory job plan reviews. In addition, a number of clinical excellence awards are available to those consultants who have made outstanding contributions to the development of the service and/or the greatest level of achievement in research and or teaching whether locally, nationally, UK-wide or internationally.

    Transition to the new commitment and clinical excellence award schemes

    Any consultant in receipt of discretionary points prior to the introduction of the amended contract on 1 December 2003 (the due date) had these automatically converted into the equivalent number of commitment awards from that date. Any such awards count towards the maximum number of eight such awards under the scheme.

    Any consultant aged 57 or over at the due date (1 December 2003) automatically received their first new commitment award upon reaching the maximum of the consultant salary scale and at three-yearly intervals thereafter. This is subject to the consultant only being able to receive a maximum number of eight such awards, including any commitment awards arising from the conversion of discretionary points.

    Any consultant aged between 51 and 56 at the due date (1 December 2003) automatically received their first commitment award one year after reaching the maximum of the consultant salary scale and at three-yearly intervals thereafter. This is subject to the consultant only being able to receive a maximum number of eight such awards, including any commitment awards arising from the conversion of discretionary points.

    Any consultant aged between 43 and 50 at the due date (1 December 2003) automatically received their first commitment award two years after reaching the maximum of the consultant salary scale and at three-yearly intervals thereafter. Again this is subject to the consultant only being able to receive a maximum number of eight such awards, including any commitment awards arising from the conversion of discretionary points.

    Basis of awards – commitment awards

    All consultants will be eligible for a commitment award once they have completed three years’ service, after reaching the maximum point on the consultant pay scale. Then they will be eligible at three yearly intervals, after they received their previous commitment award, until they have achieved the eight commitment awards levels available under the scheme.

    The appropriate commitment award will be paid automatically in the absence of an unsatisfactory annual job plan review over the required period and it is anticipated that the overwhelming majority of consultants will achieve commitment awards on a regular basis. The aim is to help consultants achieve satisfactory outcomes for the benefit of the service. Therefore, any potential obstacles to achieving satisfactory outcomes must be raised and discussed between the consultant and their employer as soon as these become apparent, and not be delayed until the next planned review. This is to enable any remedial action to be taken and to avoid an unsatisfactory job plan review wherever possible.

    In the rare event of an unsatisfactory job plan review, the employer will give details of the reasons for such a result, in writing, record whatever remedial action is agreed, and give a defined timetable for its completion. If such agreement is not reached there will be recourse to the appeals process.

    An interim job plan review will be arranged no longer than six months following the unsatisfactory job plan review. If the consultant has remedied the situation, a satisfactory job plan review will be recorded as usual. If the interim job plan review is also unsatisfactory, the consultant will receive a formal letter outlining the reasons for deferring their commitment award for the period of one year, this deferment will also be subject to a right of appeal as agreed. Deferment may continue in subsequent years if agreed corrective action has not been completed at the next scheduled job plan review.

    Each level of commitment award is worth an amount per annum which is permanent and superannuable.