NHS 'gravy train' pays £570k a year for managers

NHS 'gravy train' pays £570k a year for managers


Former NHS chief executives who retired with multi-million pound pensions and US business executives are among those being paid twice as much as the managers they have replaced. Ministers have repeatedly pledged to cut down excess spending in the NHS, with a pay freeze last year and promises to clamp down on the use of spending via private agencies.


Yet an investigation by The Daily Telegraph found 24 managers paid rates of more than £1,000 a day during 2012/13 - including 11 executives on more than £300,000 a year. MPs said they were “appalled and depressed by the persistence of the NHS gravy train” – and by the sums being paid, which are far higher than those previously exposed. Last year, amid Government orders for a clampdown on excessive pay to interim NHS managers, the Treasury disclosed 15 cases of NHS managers who were paid more than £1,000 a day via agencies. The highest annual rate was then £400,000 a year.


But since February, Rotherham Foundation trust has paid at least £47,000 a month – an annual rate of £570,000 - for the services of Michael Morgan as its interim chief executive. The sum would pay the salary of 26 nurses. Ten more executives, mostly retired NHS bureaucrats, were paid rates of at least £300,000 a year during 2012/13, compared with five cases paid at those levels the year before.


The annual rate paid for the “interim” manager in Rotherham was three times the rate for his predecessor - and more than twice the top salary paid to any permanent NHS hospital executive. The sums for Mr Morgan, a former US healthcare executive, are paid via a “boutique” private firm which says it helps businesses in distress. The company, Bolt Partners, receives up to £92,000 a month from the trust, which has also spent thousands of pounds on flights and accommodation for another of the firm’s executives, who was put up in the Sheffield Hilton Hotel for six weeks.


Sherwood Forest Hospitals Foundation trust, one of eleven trusts on “special measures” after an investigation into its high death rates, paid rates equivalent to £414,000 a year for Eric Morton to act as interim chief executive. Mr Morton, who had just retired from the NHS with a pension of more than £2 million, was paid £190,000 to work for Sherwood Forest trust for five and a half months in 2012/13

Over the previous five months, the same hospital trust paid £135,000 – an annual equivalent of £369,000 – for interim chief executive Dr Mark Goldman, who had retired from another NHS hospital with a £2.3 million pension. Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals Foundation trust paid £345,000 to interim chief executive Peter Reading for12 months’ work - a daily rate of £1,700.


He had previously received a £700,000 payoff when he took early retirement from University Hospitals of Leicester trust. The Leicester trust last year paid another retired NHS chief executive, Jim Birrell, £185,000 for six months’ work – the equivalent of £370,000 per year. Almost all the trusts made the payments through agencies, which took a cut, or through limited companies linked to the individual being paid.


The earnings mean the managers on interim rates fare even better than 7,000 NHS employees with salaries of at least £100,000. Margaret Hodge, chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said: “Its appalling and immensely depressing. We know the NHS is struggling to cope with its financial constraints. Ministers have repeatedly said they will clamp down on this, but these figures show it is worse than ever – the gravy train rolls on and on.”


Asked about the sums paid, Rotherham Foundation trust said it had engaged with the specialist healthcare firm Bolt in order to lead the trust’s recovery, using a “philosophy of participation and inclusion”. Other trusts said they had paid the interim rates because they had significant challenges and could not find suitable candidates at lower cost.

By Laura Donnelly 

The Telegraph, 27th September, 2013

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