REVEALED: Scandal-hit NHS hospitals hand out £7 million in performance bonuses

Today the TaxPayers' Alliance can reveal that clinical staff at the Mid-Staffordshire and University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay (UHMB) NHS Trusts were awarded more than £7 million in "Clinical Excellence Awards," whilst official inquiries found that patient care was seriously deficient - leading to shocking patient care and even unnecessary patient deaths.

Freedom of Information Requests, submitted by the TaxPayers' Alliance, have revealed:

  • At least 259 Clinical Excellence Awards were given to staff at UHMB NHS Trust between 2005 and 2012, totalling just shy of £4 million. The total is likely to be higher, as the Trust has provided incomplete details for 2005-2008
  • 170 Clinical Excellence Awards were awarded to staff at Mid-Staffordshire NHS Trust between 2006 and 2010
  • Mid-Staffordshire officials refused to reveal the average value of the bonuses awarded. At the national average value of £18,860, 170 awards would total £3.2 million - the real total could, of course, be higher.
  • The full breakdown for Mid-Staffs can be found here, and for UHMB here.

Clinical Excellence Awards are the NHS' version of performance bonuses. They are awarded at both local and national level, though mostly at the former. According to the NHS website, Clinical Excellence Awards are designed to:

"Recognise and reward NHS consultants and academic GPs who perform 'over and above' the standard expected of their role. Awards are given for quality and excellence, acknowledging exceptional personal contributions."

When announced in 2003, then-Health Secretary Alan Milburn said that the awards "would recognise and reward those NHS consultants who do most for NHS patients."

However, both Trusts have been shown to have been delivering disgracefully poor quality of care at the same time as nominations for these Awards were being submitted.

  • According to the final report of the public inquiry into the scandal at Mid-Staffs, "the culture at the Trust was not conducive to providing good care for patients... there was an acceptance of poor standards... the Trust lacked a sufficient sense of collective responsibility or engagement for ensuring that quality care was delivered at every level."
  • The Kirkup Report into the quality of care at the UHMB Trust described a "lethal mix" of failings that led to the unnecessary deaths of at least one mother and 11 babies between 2004 and 2013

Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said:

"It's shocking that as patients were being subjected to inhumane treatment at the hands of some staff, these Trusts saw fit to dish out huge bonuses for supposed excellence. Public inquiries have been scathing of the scandalous care at these hospitals, and the awarding of cash rewards for staff shows that priorities were seriously mixed up. The government must take a very close look at this scheme and ensure that taxpayers' money never gets wasted on bonuses for staff while patients are suffering."

TPA spokesmen are available for live and pre-recorded broadcast interviews via 07795 084 113 (no texts)

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