What are they?

Discretionary points are financial awards given in Scotland. Each NHS Board is required to make discretionary points available to reward excellence in service delivery to:

  • Consultants who have reached pay point 5 of the pay scale, or its equivalent.
  • Associate specialists who have reached pay point 7 and remain on the old contract.

Why would I want them?

Consultants are entitled to these awards as recognition of their additional contribution and excellence.

Each discretionary point is worth £3204 each year (2013/14) and counts towards pensionable pay. The maximum number of points awarded is eight, i.e. £25,632 per year increase in pensionable salary. Awards are typically retained for the duration of service thereafter but this may be subject to review in future.


How can I get them?

Apply to your health board. Each board should contact eligible consultants annually. If you think you might be eligible check with your workforce or human resources department. The board is obliged to make awards annually (0.35 points per eligible consultant). The total number of points available in each board is divided between applicants based on merit. Usually a very small number of applicants (if any) will be awarded 3 points, some 2 points and others 1 point.  Not every applicant will be successful at each application round.

What makes a successful application?

  • A relevant concise and accurate application, clearly dated and with evidence of contribution in a range of areas (e.g. contribution to improving and developing clinical services; contribution to management; significant contribution towards the achievement of local NHS service priorities; contribution to teaching and training; contribution to clinical audit and/or research; contribution to the wider role of the NHS).
  • Fill out the form exactly as outlined in your own board’s instructions. This is really important. Applications may be rejected outright on the basis of incorrect formatting, typeface etc.
  • Try to score in every box. You are more likely to be successful if you can evidence activity across all domains. There will typically be 5 to 8 domains for scoring. An empty domain will score zero. (Note, in some boards the lowest scoring domain will be omitted from the final scoring process. Check for local arrangements.)
  • Whilst applications are permitted every year, the best applications often gather evidence over a number of years. Consultants can apply every year but alternate years, or less frequently, might stand a better chance of scoring highly.
  • Existing awards and timing of most recent award are taken into account during the decision-making process.

Web resources/further reading:

Author: Dr Catherine Labinjoh, Joint-Chair of the RCPE Recently Appointed Consultants Committee and Consultant and Clinical Lead for Cardiology, Forth Valley Royal Hospital

Reviewed: 5 April 2017, links updated September 2021