Consultant award schemes and clinical excellence awards (CEA)

Consultants in England and Wales can apply for local and national CEAs (clinical excellence awards), and a BMA citation to support the application. In Wales, consultants can also receive commitment awards, while in Scotland, they can apply for discretionary points.

Location: UK
Audience: Consultants
Updated: Monday 7 September 2020
Wallet and notes illustration
2020 National Clinical Excellence Awards competition has been suspended

The Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards has suspended this year competition due to the increasing impact of COVID-19 on NHS staff.


Therefore, the BMA has suspended the citation process until we have more information about mitigations and contingencies. 


Read more about the CEA suspension at GOV.UK

Extension to awards due April 2021

Ministers have agreed to extend those awards that were due to be renewed in 2020 by one year.

If your award is due to expire on 1 April 2021 and you want to extend your award, you must complete an application form. Read more in the announcement and how to apply.

Applications for extensions close on 31 July 2020.


LCEAs and COVID-19

In England

In light of the COVID-19 pandemic, LCEA (local clinical excellence awards) will not be run this year, and the award money will instead be distributed equally among eligible consultants.

The BMA, NHS Employers and the HCSA have agreed a joint statement for how the LCEA award money will be distributed this year.

In Wales

Following the suspension of the 2020 competition for new and renewed national clinical excellence awards, proposals have been agreed by DHSC and Welsh Government ministers.


​The 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.


What to demonstrate

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.


Local and national awards

In 2018, the BMA reached an agreement with NHS Employers and the Department of Health and Social Care on changes to the local (employer-based) CEA scheme in England. 

Employer-based awards committees assess applications for the local awards (levels 1–9). National awards (levels 9–12) are decided by the ACCEA and its subcommittees. A level 9 award may be assessed by either, depending on the achievement being recognised.

Consider carefully whether to submit the same form both locally and nationally. A form written for national recognition may not reflect local achievements, and it can be difficult to comply with the rules excluding evidence that was submitted for an earlier award.

​Remember that the national process operates to significantly different timescales and rules.

Consultants with other awards

Consultants with an existing distinction award or discretionary points will keep them, subject to review provisions, and are eligible to apply for awards as normal. The value of distinction awards and discretionary points will continue to be uprated in line with the DDRB’s recommendations.

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


Award values

Level Awarded by local committees £ 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

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.

In line with the consultant contract, discretionary points will be paid from 1 April 2019 for work done in 2018-19. 

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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