Temporary NHS staff earn excessive pay

Barts NHS Trust  is paying £47,000 a month to their temporary Director of Finance, Ian Miller - an annual total of £561,000. This is despite being on a temporary contract and in the wake of calls from Jeremy Hunt, the Health secretary, to end excessive NHS pay

Worryingly for taxpayers, the trust has a record of hiring expensive temporary staff. Last year alone, it spent £80m on agency doctors and nurses and over three years has spent £192m.

Barts NHS Trust is forecasting a £135m deficit this year, double the amount expected of any other organisation, yet it is still performing poorly. The trust is currently labelled “inadequate” by The Care Quality Commission and has received dismal inspection reports. Evidently the trust is failing both taxpayers and patients.

To put this astonishing sum in context, the head of the NHS, Simon Stevens, earns £190,000 a year while the Prime Minister earns £142,500. In times of austerity it seems to defy belief that one-fifth of NHS directors are paid in excess of the PM’s salary. Although the NHS budget has been protected, such salaries need to be scrutinised to ensure the NHS is providing value for money for taxpayers.

This builds upon the 2013 report from the National Audit Office showing the NHS has spent an eye-watering £435 million in redundancy payments as a result of the Health and Social Care Act which came into force in April 2013. As part of the new reforms, 10,000 full-time employees have left their jobs at an average cost of over £43,000 each.

Hundreds of those workers whose positions were made redundant received severance packages of over £200,000, with one high-ranking manager receiving a package of nearly £580,000. 

However, more than one in five of those that have been laid off walked back in to new positions within the NHS – some after a mere four weeks – meaning some walk through a lucrative revolving door

While Mr Miller’s case is only the latest example of excessive NHS pay and waste, the TPA has explored this issue before.

Our Bumper Book of Government Waste uncovered similar cases. For example, Newcastle Council spent £1.1 million on making 55 members of staff redundant, only to subsequently rehire them. This happened in Stoke-on-Trent Council as well, with £330,000 being spent on severance packages, with these same employees once again being rehired.

Similarly, the Bumper Book highlighted an annual £666 million bill spent on locum doctors due to increased regulations on doctors’ weekly work hours and centralised pay bargaining. As locum doctors are more expensive and more difficult to schedule, reforming the system to minimise their use would certainly be helpful in the fight to reduce waste. 

Other huge waste items include £1.2 billion lost as a result of NHS clinical negligence, £972 million in excess staff sickness days and £150 million in unused prescriptions. More must be done to cut out this waste and focus resources on patient care.

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