Consultant award schemes and clinical excellence awards (CEA)

Information on the national CEAs and discretionary points, including everything you need for application, what you need to demonstrate, award values and details of the award schemes in the devolved nations.

Location: UK
Audience: Consultants
Updated: Thursday 11 November 2021
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​The national CEA (clinical excellence award) scheme in England and Wales aims to reward the consultants who contribute most to the delivery of safe and high-quality care and the improvement of NHS services. This includes consultants and senior academic GPs who do so through their contribution to academic medicine.

In Wales, consultants can also receive commitment awards. In Scotland, consultants can apply for discretionary points. In Northern Ireland there has been no award scheme run for several years. 


LCEAs in England 2021-2022

In light of the continued pressures of the COVID-19 pandemic on the consultant workforce and employers, LCEAs (local clinical excellence awards) for the 2021-2022 round will not run.

Instead, the money will be distributed amongst all eligible consultants. Read the joint statement for more on this, funding details, and the extension of the Schedule 30 provisions.


Award values

Level Local awards awarded by local committees £ National awards awarded by ACCEA £
1 3,016
2 6,032
3 9,048
4 12,064
5 15,080
6 18,096
7 24,128
8 30,160
9* or bronze 36,192 36,192
10 or silver 47,582
11 or gold 59,477
12 or platinum 77,320

*a local level 9 can be awarded national which is the same as a bronze level award


National clinical excellence awards 2021 now closed

As a national nominating body, the BMA offers support and citations for national clinical excellence award applications. More information on how to apply for a citation will be released when the 2022 round opens.


What to demonstrate

National CEAs are awarded to consultants who work in England or Wales, and who:

  • demonstrate sustained commitment to patient care and wellbeing, or improving public health
  • maintain high standards of technical and clinical aspects of service while providing patient-focused care
  • in their day-to-day practice, demonstrate a commitment to NHS values and goals by participating actively in job planning, observing the private practice code of conduct and 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 our knowledge base through research and participate actively in research governance
  • are recognised as excellent teachers, trainers or managers
  • contribute to policy-making and planning in health and healthcare; or
  • make an outstanding contribution to professional leadership.

Award schemes in the devolved nations

CEAs in Northern Ireland

Consultants in Northern Ireland have been denied new CEAs since 2013.

Distinction awards in Scotland

The distinction awards budget in Scotland has been frozen since 2010, with no new awards and no progression through the scheme. The Scottish Advisory Committee on Distinction Awards undertakes five-yearly reviews of distinction awards for those who already hold them.

Discretionary points in Scotland

There is no nationally agreed application process for discretionary points, and arrangements vary between employers. Most employers have adopted a process following agreement with the local negotiating committee.

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

Commitment awards in Wales

  • Commitment awards are available to all consultants after three years’ service at the top of the consultant pay scale, who demonstrate their commitment through satisfactory job plan reviews. 
  • They are then eligible at three-yearly intervals, until they have achieved eight award levels. Each level is worth an amount annually which is permanent and superannuable.
  • The award is paid automatically in the absence of an unsatisfactory job plan review, so most consultants should receive commitment awards regularly. 

In the rare event of an unsatisfactory job plan review, the employer will:

  • give details of the reasons, in writing
  • record the agreed remedial action
  • give a defined timetable for its completion.

If the consultant doesn’t agree, they can appeal.

An interim job plan review will be arranged no more than six months later. If the situation has been remedied, a satisfactory job plan review will be recorded as usual. If the interim review is also unsatisfactory, the consultant will receive a formal letter outlining the reasons for deferring their commitment award for one year. This deferment is also subject to a right of appeal.

CEAs in Wales

Whilst Welsh consultants received a 2.5% uplift in basic pay for 2019-2020, the Welsh minister for health withheld the uplift recommended by the DDRB for CEAs and commitment awards this year.

BMA Cymru Wales negotiated a one-off payment of £202.44 for this financial year, that was paid to all consultants in March 2020.

This will be the same amount for full and LTFT consultants, but pro-rated as appropriate for those starting in post after April 2019. It is non-consolidated and non-pensionable.

It was also agreed that an additional £0.5m of funding, plus whatever DDRB uplift is awarded next year, will be used for improving the reward package for consultants in Wales in 2020-2021.

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