HEALTH bosses have accepted inflation-busting pay rises despite staff being placed on NHS pay freezes and presiding over multi million pound cuts.
Directors of Oxford Health NHS Foundation Trust, which runs community health services, and the Oxford University Hospitals Trust (OUH), have seen their salaries boosted by up to £10,000.
Oxford Health has outlined £52m of cuts over the next five years from all of its services – including staffing costs – and workers are on an NHS-wide pay freeze.
It is currently consulting with nurses on bringing in a new longer shift of 12 hours to ‘increase efficiency’.
Overseeing the cuts was Julie Waldron, chief executive of the trust, who during the last financial year saw her salary increased from between £160,000-£165,000 to £165,000- £170,000.
Meanwhile, two Oxford University Hospitals Trust directors – who must oversee £160m of savings over the next four years – have also accepted a pay rise.
OUH chief executive Sir Jonathan Michael – who saw his salary boosted from £210,000-£215,000 to £215,000-£220,000 across the same period – outlined plans to cut the budget by £49m over the next year alone in an interview with the Oxford Mail in June.
The cuts will include £3.6m in ward closures, £2.5m in job cuts including compulsory redundancies and £3.2m from changes to nursing rotas on adult wards.
Andrew Stevens, the trust’s director of planning and information, also saw his salary boosted from £105,000-£110,000 to £110,000-£115,000. The average nurse earns about £26,000 a year.
It comes as the NHS Employers body recommends the NHS pay freeze is extended for a third year to ‘protect services and minimise job losses’.
NHS staff earning more than £21,000 have been on a pay freeze for two years, although staff employed on an Agenda for Change pay scale receive small incremental rises until they reach the top of their pay band.
Agenda for Change is the system of pay put in place in 2004. Staff are placed in one of nine pay bands on the basis of their knowledge, responsibility, skills and effort needed for the job.
Neither trust could say how many staff were employed under the scheme and how many were not.
All three directors could have turned down the recommended pay increases but none did.
The OUH statement said the directors had received the pay increases – set by Non-Executive Directors of the Trust through the Remuneration and Appointments Committee – to ‘address market relativities’.
A spokesman added: “In November 2011 Oxford Radcliffe Hospitals merged with the Nuffield Ortho-paedic Centre to form Oxford University Hospitals NHS Trust.
“The salary paid to the Chief Executive of the Trust is within a comparable pay range to other large teaching hospitals and similar senior roles across the public and private sector and reflects the complexity of the role.”
Oxford Health, which employs 5,500 staff and runs community hospitals and mental health services, said its priority was to minimise financial impacts on clinical services and look to make savings in senior management and back office functions.
A spokesman added: “Although some directors received a pay increase of between four and eight per cent, there was a reduction in Executive Director spend as one Executive Director post was removed.
“The portfolio and responsibilities for other directors grew in order to enable this reduction in posts, and salaries were increased in some areas to reflect this. Even with this small percentage increase there was still an overall decrease in the Trust spend on Executive Director posts.
“This is the first time any Executive Director salaries have been increased in three years and therefore the average increases over that period are similar to those received by staff on Agenda for Change.”
Ian Mckendrick, Unison Branch Communications Officer based at Oxford Health, said: “Staff aren’t going to be happy about this.
“It’s very unfair. People won’t understand why they’re being told they’re cutting staff, and having their own pay held down for third year in a row, but they’ve accepted a pay rise. It beggars belief.”
WHAT OUR MPS THINK
Andrew Smith, Oxford East MP, said: “It is totally unacceptable for health chiefs to accept these increases when the pay of the people they are in charge of is frozen, and when huge savings have to be made in patient services. This smacks of one rule for them, one rule for everybody else. The Trusts should think again about these rises – and reverse them. I am today writing to the Secretary of State for Health asking him to step in. There is no way he can justify these increases going ahead when the government is freezing public sector pay.”
Nicola Blackwood, Oxford West and Abingdon MP, said: ‘I am not aware of the full context of this decision but on the surface I think that both taxpayers who rely on NHS services, and NHS staff who have had their salaries frozen, will find it hard to see the fairness in this decision, especially as increasingly difficult spending choices are having to be made across our public services.'
John Howell, Henley MP, said: “I have not seen this. If it is true, it is much to be regretted. When there are pay restraints across the public sector, including MPs, it is not acceptable for senior trust staff to be accepting increases of this magnitude.”