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 17 February 2020
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​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.


Apply for a BMA citation

The 2020 clinical excellence awards in England and Wales opens on Thursday 13 March 2020 and will close at 5pm on Thursday 7 May 2020. We suggest you start your application as soon as possible. Please note that these are revised dates.

You can familiarise yourself with the 2019 ACCEA (Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards) guidelines and download the application forms ahead of the publication of the 2020 guide. You can copy and paste information from these forms into the online form once the ACCEA system opens.

Submitting your application to BMA for support

If you would like to seek BMA support for your application for a higher award, please email it to by 9am on Thursday 5 March.

The BMA’s CEA group will consider it and offer a citation for selected applications. In line with the ACCEA guide for nominators, we will be looking for applications that show both clinical excellence and notable contributions to BMA work. Only applications which score the most highly in both areas will be supported.

You must include the date and level of your last award and a short paragraph (max 250 words) on the work you have done for the BMA.

This year we are only able to offer the process of considering applications for supporting citations; we will not be offering feedback on applications.

Submitting your application to ACCEA

All candidates are responsible for submitting their CEA application form to ACCEA as per the guidelines. The ACCEA secretariat will confirm receipt of application. It is up to the applicant to chase up any application.


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. Read the BMA response.

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.


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