Scottish health boards paid consultants £43 million in bonuses in 2016-17, despite First Minister Nicola Sturgeon having promised to put a stop to the practice.
Figures obtained by the Scottish Conservatives under the Freedom of Information Act showed the total sum of bonuses had increased by £6 million from the previous year. Overall, £43 million was paid to 2,858 consultants within the Scottish NHS, an average of £15,000 per consultant.
It is estimated that over £100,000 is spent on bonuses each day. The bonuses were paid to consultants in the form of “distinction awards” and “discretionary points”, according to the Conservatives’ report.
The awards are linked to performance, with medics given A+ ratings able to earn an extra £75,899 per year. Discretionary points, meanwhile, can be worth up to £25,632 extra in pensionable salary.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde health board increased bonuses by more than £400,000 over the year, while NHS Lothian’s total rose by nearly £500,000.
The figures have led to criticism towards Nicola Sturgeon, who had promised to curb bonus payments in 2010 while in the role of health minister.
A spokesman for the Scottish Conservatives, Miles Briggs, acknowledged that medical professionals should be rewarded and incentivised, but added that: “many – including NHS workers further down the chain – will question the sheer scale of these payments. The NHS is extremely hard up, and these are payments worth tens of millions of pounds.
“It’s another example of the SNP government saying it’s going to do something, then forgetting about it more or less immediately. “
Health Secretary Shona Robison, said: “This government values the enormous contribution NHS Scotland staff makes to the health service. Over 98 per cent of NHS employees earning in excess of £100,000 are clinicians or consultants.
“It is right that we pay the going rate, which is reviewed annually by the independent pay review bodies, in order to attract and retain highly-skilled and much sought-after staff.”