Another massive reward for failure in the NHS

August 15, 2013 2:59 PM

When Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was put into special measures,  after the review carried out by NHS medical director, Sir Bruce Keogh, there were many who thought the position of chief executive, Karen Jackson, was untenable. Today it has been revealed that her reward for a litany of failure was a huge pay rise.

According to the Yorkshire Post, her salary has increased from £140,000 a year to £170,000 - a rise of 20 per cent. The Trust is now saying this is wrong. Her salary was £145,000 a year, so this means her percentage rise was not as high as previously stated. Whether it's a 20 per cent rise or a 15 per cent rise, it is still a massive reward for failure.

Trust chairman, James Whittingham, was unrepentant this morning. He said:

It is important that we pay salaries which are commensurate with the job to attract and retain high calibre people. Karen Jackson’s starting salary in 2010 was set below the agreed rate as it was her first chief executive post, and she declined a pay rise after her first year in the role. She is now receiving a salary that is roughly in line with the average for trusts of this size and type.

There are many, myself included, who doubt Mrs Jackson is a high calibre person. As for her receiving a salary that is roughly in line with the average for Trusts of this size and type, I have two points to make:

Firstly, the salaries for top executives in most public sector organisations are too high. Comparisons made with the private sector do not hold water. A chief executive of a private company is responsible for making sure the business turns over a profit. If they fail in this task, the business could go under. Top executives in the public sector do not have this pressure.

Secondly, why should Mrs Jackson receive a comparable salary to similar sized Trusts when she has taken her Trust  into special measures? If anything, her performance related pay award should have resulted in a reduction in salary.

Dr Whittingham also went on to say:

It would be a grave mistake and false economy to pay so far below the market rate that executives leave their posts or are impossible to recruit.

If you were the chairman of a Trust and looked at Mrs Jackson's CV, would you employ her? Dr Whittingham inhabits a strange world if he thinks that Mrs Jackson is the best and we must handsomely reward her. What is he going to do next when the Trust comes out of special measures, give her another whopping pay rise?

It is impossible to see how local people can have any faith in not only Mrs Jackson and other senior executives, but also in Dr Whittingham and the remuneration panel he chairs. For there to be real change in this Trust, there needs to be a change at the top.

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