Scottish health unions have only just been asked to submit names to the panels which will decide on who will qualify for the discretionary points scheme, announced by Scottish health minister Sam Galbraith 14 months ago.

Unions were asked to submit names by 18 May in a letter issued by a private management consultancy which said that training would run from 24 May to 3 June.

Decisions on who will receive the extra money are due to be announced before the end of July, and will be backdated to September 1998.

Discretionary points will reward selected senior nurses and professionals allied to medicine. In Scotland, staff are being assessed at health board level, instead of by individual trusts as has happened in England.

Royal College of Nursing Scottish secretary June Andrews said the positive element of the scheme was that it was being developed with the trade unions.

But many people would see it as about 'rewarding some and making others feel hard done by'.

She added: 'Some, who feel they should be rewarded, may resent having to jump through hoops to be given something they believe should be theirs anyway. But this is a start.'