Discussion on changes to bonus payments for consultants look set to begin in earnest next week with the publication of a long awaited report into clinical excellence awards.

The Review Body on Doctors and Dentists Remuneration was asked to look into whether the controversial awards represented value for money for the NHS. Then health secretary Andrew Lansley also asked the independent body to consider whether there was a need for payments above the basic rate for recruitment and retention, as well as to incentivise excellence and activities such as research and leadership.

HSJ has learned the report, which has been with the Department of Health since July 2011, is to be published on Monday. It is understood the government plans to use the report to kick-start discussion on altering the existing system which has remained largely unchanged since the foundation of the NHS in 1948.

Consultants can receive awards of between around £3,000 and £75,000 a year on top of their basic salary. Academics at York University have estimated the awards cost the NHS £500m in 2011, including pension and National Insurance costs.

The body received submissions calling for major reform of the system from a number of parties including the DH and NHS Employers. The DH suggested the bonuses be replaced by alternative “non-cash prizes”. Meanwhile, NHS Employers described the system as “not fit for purpose” and proposed that if the awards were not scrapped they ceased to be pensionable.

Other proposals received by the body included the introduction of earned increments and a senior consultant grade to give consultants a continued sense of career progression.

A second report from NHS Employers into the junior doctors contract is also due to be published on Monday. HSJ understands it will argue that the existing contract, which was designed to address issues around the European working time directive, has served its purpose and should be revised.