DOCTORS’ and nurses’ representatives yesterday condemned last year’s £35m of massive pay rises for NHS trust chief executives, while NHS staff have suffered pay freezes for five years.
NHS accounts show hospital bosses netted £35m in 6% pay rises last year despite a 1% wage cap on nurses, midwives and ancillary staff.
The total NHS bosses’ pay bill rose from £570m in 2013 to £605m. Had executives’ pay increased by 1% in line with nurses, the NHS could have saved £28.5m last year alone, enough to pay for more than 1,300 new nurses.
A Daily Mail investigation found some executives earned more than £1m last year, and even at hospitals with the worst standards of care, directors received pay packages worth up to £5,000 per day.
Dr Peter Carter, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, said: ‘At a time when NHS finances are in crisis, it is shocking that some NHS bosses continue to receive such vastly inflated financial rewards.
‘Senior managers such as chief executives do important and highly valued work, but they should not be getting disproportionate pay rises and bonuses while frontline staff continue to struggle with financial restraint.
‘Nursing staff will struggle to comprehend that their bosses have had an average six per cent pay rise when they are only getting 1% this year, having seen their pay fall further and further behind the cost of living over the last few years.
‘Across the NHS, the squeeze on budgets is causing staff shortages, severe stress and low morale, all of which impacts on patient care. When money is so scarce, the priority should be to relieve those pressures, not to boost the pay of those who are already so well rewarded.’
Professor Jane Dacre, president of the Royal College of Physicians, said: ‘It is important that we appoint high quality chief executives in NHS Trusts and their focus should always be on standards of patient care.
‘They should be rewarded for the difficult role that they have taken on, but this should relate to the standard of patient care that they provide and the size of the organisation they run.
‘Transparency in the NHS, including transparency of remuneration, is vital to ensure accountability to the patients we serve. An independent review would help to ensure that NHS CEO salaries are fair.’
Calling for an investigation, Andy Burnham, Labour’s shadow health secretary, said: ‘If there has been any abuse it has to be tackled.
‘This is excessive at a time when we are asking other NHS staff to exercise restraint.’
The Daily Mail reported the average NHS chief executive in England now takes home £185,255 in salary, higher than the prime minister’s £142,500 pay.
Some have used a loophole to take huge pension lump sums early, by secretly ‘quitting’ for a day, working part-time for a month, then returning to their posts full-time on the same huge salary as before.