Scotland urges overhaul of academic GP pay across UK

Scotland's health secretary has called for a UK-wide overhaul of academic GPs' and consultants' distinction awards and a freeze at 2009 levels.

Nicola Sturgeon says the money given to already highly-paid doctors should be redistributed to a wider range of health workers.

She has urged Ron Amy, chairman of the Doctors' and Dentists' Review Body, to freeze distinction awards at 2009/10 levels and not to increase the number of awards.

Distinction and clinical excellence awards are paid to academic GPs and consultants for outstanding professional work. They can be worth between £35,484 and £75,889 a year on top of salaries.

Ms Sturgeon said: 'The existing schemes are outdated and do little to create a drive for excellence throughout the clinical teams we have now.'

Sixty academic GPs enjoy national excellence awards, including two at the highest (platinum) level: Martin Roland, professor of health services research at Cambridge, and Professor Roger Jones, head of general practice at King's College, London.

Other GPs do not qualify for distinction awards. They get seniority pay instead, escalat experience.

In letters to prime minister Gordon Brown and the health secretaries of England, Wales and Northern Ireland, Ms Sturgeon has called for UK-wide backing to ensure no constituent countries lose their competitive advantage.

Ms Sturgeon's drive follows a campaign by the Royal College of Nursing Scotland for all NHS staff to be rewarded in a similar way to consultants.

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