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Awards scheme for medics must be made fairer

I refer to your headline article in the Belfast Telegraph ‘Fury at £57m bonuses for top medics’ and would like to voice my own concerns as minister for health.

As health minister, I too am frustrated by a national scheme that awards only our senior specialist consultants which is why I, along with ministers in Scotland and Wales are calling for the awards to be reviewed. I will be raising this with the secretary of state for health, Andrew Lansley, calling on him to review this.

I inherited the situation and it is not within my authority to approve them or to break contracts agreed nationally.

The awards scheme requires consultants to demonstrate excellence in high standards in clinical practice, service development, teaching and research. While they reward the valuable work of consultants, many other doctors, nurses and healthcare professionals are not recognised nor rewarded in the same way when they demonstrate excellence in their jobs daily. It is an unfair rewards system that needs addressing.

It is also important to remember that the overall costs for Northern Ireland are lower than costs in the rest of the UK as there are fewer awards made here.

While Northern Ireland’s beleaguered health service faces imposed cuts locally and nationally, if we do not retain and preserve our healthcare professionals through a fair rewards system, then we risk an inept service detrimental to patients’ lives.

Michael McGimpsey

Minister for Health

Belfast Telegraph

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