More than half of consultants in Northern Ireland received a Clinical Excellence Award, recent Government figures have revealed.
According to the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS), there were 1,327 consultants working in health and social care in Northern Ireland on April 1, 2010 and 52% were in receipt of an award at that time.
Since then, no new CEAs have been awarded due to the financial climate, although existing holders continue to receive it — once a CEA has been awarded it becomes part of the consultant’s terms and conditions. It is understood that removing a CEA could constitute an unlawful deduction of earnings, meaning health bosses could be left open to legal action.
This is not the first time concerns have been raised over CEAs.
Last year, the Belfast Telegraph revealed the consultant at the centre of a major health scare was being paid almost £56,000 a year on top of his salary.
It emerged Professor Philip Lamey (left) , a consultant in oral medicine at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital, had been receiving a CEA of at least £55,924 a year since 2001.
The money was still paid to him even though the Belfast Health & Social Trust referred him to the General Dental and General Medical councils over concerns over his fitness to practise at the end of 2009.
The body which oversees the implementation of the CEA scheme awaits the outcome of any investigation by the GDC or GMC before reviewing the award.