NHS pay abuse fear

May 8, 1998

The public could be paying hundreds of thousands of pounds to academics who may be abusing a National Health Service pay award scheme, Cambridge University scholars will warn.

Academics at Cambridge have claimed that the NHS Consultants' Distinction Awards Scheme is subject to abuse.Next week, they will invite the university's new review body on pay and promotions to investigate.

The move comes as the Department of Health begins a review of the scheme, which was set up more than 50 years ago to reward "outstanding professional work" in the NHS, following claims that it is administered by "an old boys' network" and lacks openness.

Clinical teachers and research workers employed by a university or the Medical Research Council are eligible for the awards. Almost 3,000 consultant doctors and dentists share more than Pounds 80 million, and individuals can get salary additions of up to Pounds 52,920 a year.

Guidelines produced annually by the advisory committee on the awards, part of the NHS, stipulate that academics are eligible if they "devote an assessable amount of time to NHS work, which can be verified by their NHS employer" and if they hold honorary, unpaid, NHS consultant contracts.

NHS work includes "direct care of individual patients" and "NHS-based activities of wider benefit to patient care in the NHS as a whole". This can include "any form of clinical research that can be specifically related to the diagnosis or treatment of individual patients I but not other forms of research".

Anthony Edwards, a reader in biometry at Cambridge and a former member of Cambridge's general board committee, said this week: "I believe that there is a large number of people benefiting from these awards who should not be. The difficulty is that it can often be claimed that you are looking after patients once removed."

Health minister Alan Milburn last month called the scheme "racist" as it emerged that a white male doctor is three times more likely to get the award than an ethnic minority colleague. The minister said he would work with the advisory committee to boost equality.

Michael Corren, secretary to the medical committee of the Committee of Vice-Chancellors and Principals, said the CVCP would lobby for "a fair system for all". He said: "It is important to make sure that academics' contribution to the development of patient care and clinical service is fairly recognised."

An independent review body, set up by Cambridge's council last week to examine the university's pay and promotions systems, will be invited to examine the NHS awards at a meeting next week to establish its remit.

You've reached your article limit

Register to continue

Registration is free and only takes a moment. Once registered you can read a total of 6 articles each month, plus:

  • Sign up for the editor's highlights
  • Receive World University Rankings news first
  • Get job alerts, shortlist jobs and save job searches
  • Participate in reader discussions and post comments
Register

Have your say

Log in or register to post comments

Featured Jobs

Assistant Professorship in Behavioural Science LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE
Foundation Partnerships Officer LONDON SCHOOL OF ECONOMICS & POLITICAL SCIENCE LSE

Most Commented

James Fryer illustration (8 September 2016)

Some lecturers will rightly encourage forms of student interaction that are impossible for those covering their faces, Eric Heinze argues

University of Oxford students walking on campus

University of Oxford snatches top spot from Caltech in this year’s World University Rankings as Asia’s rise continues

Handwritten essay on table

Universities must pay more attention to the difficulties faced by students, says Daniel Dennehy

Theresa May entering 10 Downing Street, London

The prospect of new grammar schools on the horizon raises big questions for HE, writes Nick Hillman

Nosey man outside window

Head of UK admissions service Mary Curnock Cook addresses concerns that universities might ‘not hear a word’ from applicants