14 October 2010 #Employment
The BBC has reported today that large bonuses cannot be taken away from doctors, even if their performance deteriorates, because of a loophole in the system.
According to the BBC this means that more than half of the 36,000 consultants in England now receive what are effectively "lifetime" awards on top of their £89,400 basic pay. The best performing consultants receive more than £75,000 a year in bonuses.
The scheme, which cost £200m in England last year and has been in existence since the NHS was created in 1948, is currently being reviewed as part of the public sector cuts.
To apply for an award, consultants nominate themselves and are asked to provide details of excellent performance and innovation in terms of clinical care, research and training. A reassessment should take place every five years and withdrawn from people who no longer display the quality of work which would merit an award.
However, because of the pay protection clause, doctors have continued to get the payouts even though the ‘bonuses` have been formally withdrawn from them. It was hoped that the NHS could claw some back some of the money by not providing annual pay rises to those who have had their awards withdrawn. However, since pay is frozen at the moment, this is having little effect.
Doctors have defended the system saying that it ensures excellence is rewarded. The BMA say that pay protection was needed so that doctors had "security of income" and to engage and motivate them.
The review is being carried out by independent Doctors` and Dentists` Review Body and is due to report next summer.
Documents relating to variation of contract can be found on Employmentbuddy.