Northern Ireland Consultant

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Minister: too many consultants receive excellence awards

Too many consultants are receiving excellence awards, Northern Ireland’s health, social services and public safety minister has claimed.

Health minister Jim WellsJim Wells said he did not disagree with the principle of rewarding doctors who make outstanding contributions to the health service.

However, he said he wants to review CEAs (clinical excellence awards).

It comes as he is axing frontline services across Northern Ireland to tackle an £80m shortfall in his budget this financial year.

Mr Wells (pictured above) made the comments at the Policy Forum for Northern Ireland Keynote Seminar: Transforming Your Care and the Future of Health and Social Care Delivery: Hospitals, Communities and Partnerships‏.

Awards and austerity

He was responding to a question on the future of CEAs from Royal College of Midwives in Northern Ireland director Breedagh Hughes.

She raised concerns about the continuing payment of CEAs at a time when the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has said it cannot afford to award a 1 per cent pay rise to NHS staff.

Mr Wells said: ‘I have a lot of sympathy for what you are saying. The difficulty is we are contractually obliged so we are in a difficult position here.

‘I do believe there are situations where some of our consultants make outstanding and internationally recognised achievements.

‘I think CEAs should be for absolute exceptional delivery but it seems that it is almost if you are a consultant you will get the payment at some stage.

‘I would like to see more plaques handed out to recognise work and less big cheques.’

Equal pay

CEAs were under discussion as part of the stalled negotiations on a new contract for consultants in England and Northern Ireland.

BMA Northern Ireland council chair John D Woods said doctors in Northern Ireland must retain the same pay and conditions as other parts of the UK.

He said this was essential to ensure that the health service in Northern Ireland can continue to attract the best consultants.

He added: ‘CEAs are integral to the consultant pay structure and exist to recognise and acknowledge excellence in the delivery of care directly benefitting patients.

‘We have advocated reform to ensure that CEAs are made on a fairer and more transparent basis.’

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