Call to reform doctors bonuses

Health Secretary Nicola Sturgeon has called for a freeze on distinction awards for top doctors and urged all four UK governments to support an overhaul of the system. 

Her call has been backed by former GP and Lothians MSP Dr Ian McKee

Ms Sturgeon said:

"Distinction Awards have been in existence in the NHS since its foundation more than 60 years ago. But the NHS now works in very different ways, with a completely different skill mix from that of the past.

"It is important that we recognise and reward the high level of talent that we have in the workforce, but that we do so in a fair and cost effective way.

"The existing schemes are outdated and do little to create a drive for excellence throughout the clinical teams we have now and which we would wish to encourage further. They are, therefore, in need of change.

"However, I believe that change must be approached on a four-country basis to avoid undermining the competiveness of any one country relative to the others when it comes to recruiting consultants.

"In the short term, and in order to signal this direction of travel, I want to see the budget frozen in cash terms for the year ahead. We are in a difficult financial climate at present and the pay of already highly-paid NHS staff should not be increased"

Welcoming the move Dr McKee said:

“This is the only welcome freeze this winter.  Unlike the cold weather a freeze on distinction awards for consultants would be good news in this difficult financial climate.

“The present system is unfit for purpose rewarding only the highest paid in the health service and acting as a pension top up rather than a real incentive.

“This is a UK wide system and I hope Gordon Brown and the other devolved administrations will follow the SNP’s lead and put these awards on ice while the system is reviewed

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