NHS providers should budget for an employer-based round of clinical excellence awards taking place later this year, NHS Employers has said.

The awards offer consultants financial incentives ranging from £2,950 to £75,000 to “recognise and reward… exceptional contribution”. Lower levels of awards are paid by trusts while higher awards are paid by the Department of Health, with the total value of the scheme amounting to £200m in England.

The future of the awards had been in doubt after health secretary Andrew Lansley announced a review in 2010 to ensure they were “effective and affordable”.

The DH pledged in December 2011 to make an announcement early this year on whether an employer or national round of awards would take place in 2012. However, it is yet to move to end the uncertainty.

NHS Employers last week updated its advice to trusts after queries from some providers. It is telling trusts to be “prudent” and plan for an employer-based round of awards.

It said: “We are continuing to advise that it would be prudent for employers to prepare for an employer-based awards round, but not to progress this until the status of these awards has been clarified and any documentation published.”

Trusts are advised not to go any further than receiving applications until a final decision or guidance has been announced.

A spokesman for NHS Employers said: “We do think employers have been very patient and we think they would like this to be resolved by government sooner rather than later.”