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Clinical Excellence Awards

Clinical Excellence Awards 2016

Applications for RCS support for this year's Clinical Excellence Awards have now closed.

Direct application to the ACCEA for 2016 is still open until 5pm on 16 May 2016, if you still wish to apply for this year.

Download the application form here

The Advisory Committee on Clinical Excellence Awards (ACCEA) advises health ministers on the presentation of clinical excellence awards to consultants working in the NHS. Awards are given for quality, excellence, and exceptional personal contributions.

Summary of changes for 2016 process

This information is in the guidance but you will want to note;

Personal statements: These will continue to be published.

Regional Scoring: All new and renewal applications are scored in their region.

Successful renewal applications: The guidance explains what is required for successful renewal applications ie a renewal application must demonstrate that it is at least as good as  the lowest ranked successful new applicant at that level in that region.

Applying for an award following retirement: The guidance explains what evidence will be considered for a new award.

Extenuating circumstances: If applying for a renewal award, include any extenuating circumstances such as ill health.


What is the RCS' involvement?

RCS is registered as a nominating body. The RCS CEA committee comprises representatives across a wide range of specialties, plus a lay member. 

RCS would not normally provide support for local awards. For those considering applying at the bronze level you must consider carefully the implications of leaving any local award scheme. If you decide to apply nationally and wish to be considered by RCS or your Surgical Specialty Association you will need to comply with the timetable of the sponsoring organisation.

What should I do if I am likely to change employer or retire?

If you are likely to change employer or retire in the next 18 months you should ask the ACCEA for their advice.

Should I apply via both RCS and my specialist association?

The ranking lists and citations which our organisations supply are considered to be important supplements to the evidence contained in the CVQs.  It is encouraged you apply to both your specialist association and the RCS for a place on their ranking list. If you wish both organisations to consider your application, you must send your CVQ to both organisations as we do not exchange CVQ information.

Whose responsibility is the online submission?

As with previous years, the responsibility for the actual online submission of the application to ACCEA will rest firmly with the applicant. The deadline is Monday 16 May 2016.

Who should I contact with questions?

If you have questions about the RCS application process please email

When should I apply for a national award?

There is no fixed time limit that determines whether a consultant should be considered for a National Bronze award. It takes time to develop the over and above achievements necessary to succeed competitively. In practice most successful candidates achieve this after approximately ten years as a consultant. However there are exceptions to this. Details on the length of time new national award holders have spent as consultants have been published in the Annual Reports of ACCEA.

What level of Employer Based Award should be held before applying for a national level award?

There is no formal requirement for applicants to hold an employer based award in order to apply for an award in the national process. A few consultants each year are given Bronze Awards without an employer based award, and this is likely for consultants who work in Wales where no employer based scheme is in place although Welsh employers do make commitment awards. Most commonly, however, consultants who successfully apply for a national award will have at least a Level 4 employer based award. Details on the pattern of previous awards held by new Bronze award holders have been published in the Annual Reports of ACCEA. It is unlikely that national awards will be made on the basis of the wider impact of work done directly for employers unless the employer has recognised its value through employer based awards, but where the case for an award lies in work outside the employing organisation this is possible.

What level of national award should a consultant apply for?

You already hold:

You can apply for:

Discretionary Points or Level 1-8 Award or commitment awards in Wales or exceptionally no award

Bronze Award through the national process and/or Level 9 from your employer if you work in England

Bronze award or Level 9 Award or B Distinction Award

Silver Award

Silver Award

Gold Award

Gold Award or A Distinction Award

Platinum Award

What happens to an award when a Clinical Excellence Award holder retires?

Clinical Excellence Awards cease on retirement and are consolidated into your NHS pension. If you are re-employed, you will not continue to receive any award payment. If you are re-employed on a permanent contract, you have the right to re-apply to the Scheme. New awards following retirement and return to work are made on the basis of work undertaken since the new contract began and applications will need to demonstrate impact and sustainability.

If you are a distinction award holder who previously held a reinstated distinction award you will have renewed your award on an annual basis until the 2013 awards round, when the award was extended to 31 March 2015. Evidence submitted in the 2013 application will already have gained recognition in the reinstated award. Evidence that has already gained recognition cannot be considered for a new award; consequently, applications for a new award should include evidence of work after the 2013 application. The assessors will disregard any evidence where the dates are unclear and for on-going work it should be clear what has been achieved since 2014.

If I leave the NHS for a period to work overseas, can my award be reinstated when I return?

If a consultant with a Clinical Excellence Award or Distinction Award leaves the NHS to work abroad the award will cease. ACCEA will consider reinstating the award subject to the consultant returning to awardable work. Consultants who are away for less than one year will normally have the award reinstated at the same level; consultants who are away for between one and five years can apply to have the award reinstated; consultants who are away five years or more must apply at Bronze Level competitively in the next awards round. ACCEA considers each case on its merits.

I am about to move Trusts, does my award move with me?

Yes this is usually the case. Both national and employer based awards are transferable between Trusts. For national awards you need to submit a signed off job plan for your new role which will be passed to the ACCEA Medical Director for approval. Where the award to be transferred is a national award, you must notify the Secretariat of your change of employer in order for them to redirect payment of your award. Usually the award is continued as it would have in the previous employment, but in exceptional circumstances where the new job is very different from the old one a shorter review period may be required in order to ensure that you are still undertaking awardable work. If the award to be transferred is an employer based award, the new employer should take over the payment of your award and you would be eligible to apply for the next level of award in your new Trust.

I am leaving my job in England and transferring to Scotland or Northern Ireland, what happens to my award?

Scotland, Northern Ireland and England have different Schemes. The Secretariats in those countries aim to ensure mutual recognition of awards to facilitate transfers between countries. You should contact the Secretariat of the country to which you are moving to discuss the process. For employer based awards your Trust should notify details to your new employer, who will let you know what they intend to do about payment of your award.

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