By politics.co.uk staff
A review of bonuses paid to NHS consultants across Britain has been tasked with ensuring they are "affordable".
Around £200 million is spent each year on clinical excellence and distinction awards, which have remained unchanged for six decades since first being introduced to reward hardworking consultants in 1948.
They will now be reassessed to see how effective they are in contributing to health outcomes for patients. The awards scheme will also be brought into line with other public sector pay schemes, the Department of Health announced.
"A more transparent and sustainable awards system will allow the NHS to focus its resources to benefit patients and drive up standards to give us a health service that delivers outcomes among the best in the world," health secretary Andrew Lansley said.
"If we can find more productive ways of operating the health service, then the benefits will go towards enhancing patient care, increasing patient choice and ultimately improving health outcomes."
The NHS is ringfenced from huge spending cuts set to sweep across the rest of Whitehall in the comprehensive spending review.
But Mr Lansley is seeking major changes nonetheless as he attempts to drive through efficiency savings which will then be reinvested elsewhere.