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Greed of the NHS Fat Cats

How bosses got GBP 35 MILLION in pay rises last year, enjoying champagne parties, exotic holidays and shopping trips to Harrods as hospitals battled to make ends meet.

 

Infographic
  • Executives earned more than £1m while directors pocketed £5,000 a day
  • Figures can be revealed after Daily Mail carried out audit of trust accounts
  • Nearly 1,000 NHS bosses earned £100,000 including pension contributions
  • Around 50 hospital bosses took home more than £400,000 last year alone
  • Senior MPs are demanding an inquiry into the extraordinary findings

Hospital bosses are today accused of 'shamelessly milking the NHS' by taking £35million in pay rises during the worst funding crisis in a generation.

Some executives earned more than £1million last year and even at hospitals with the worst standards of care directors enjoyed pay packages worth up to £5,000 a day.

The figures can be revealed after the Daily Mail carried out the most comprehensive audit ever of trust accounts and the exploitation of the NHS pension scheme by senior executives.

The extraordinary results are 'on the scale of the MPs' expenses scandal', says one influential Government adviser.

The [Daily] Mail will lay bare the staggering ways in which bosses are milking the NHS for £210million a year despite its worsening financial crisis. We will reveal how:

  • Nearly 1,000 NHS bosses earn £100,000 or more a year when their pension contributions are taken into account.
  • Despite the funding crisis, the number of bosses with pay packages worth more than the Prime Minister rose by 30 per cent last year to nearly 600.
  • Nearly 50 hospital bosses pocketed more than £400,000 last year.
  • Some sat on the very committees that handed them huge pay rises.
  • Some health chiefs are using a common tax avoidance tactic by channelling their huge salaries through their own companies.
  • Others are being rewarded for abject failure with new jobs in the NHS and getting bumper paydays after silencing whistleblowers.
  • Chief nurses are taking home up to £700,000 a year – while their £26,000-a-year staff face cuts and frozen pay.
  • One temporary executive was paid £25,000 for two months work but spent much of this time in a villa in Spain and a spa resort in California.

The findings will make for startling reading in the week that Labour is due to focus its General Election campaign on the NHS. The question of how to tackle the health service's £30billion funding gap has already dominated the election debate.

Details of the huge pay packages – all funded by taxpayers – are buried in financial reports but emerged after the Mail examined the accounts of all 160 NHS hospital trusts.

Last night nurses' groups, doctors, patient representatives and NHS experts – as well as the three major political parties – all backed calls for an inquiry following the Mail's revelations.

The average chief executive in England now takes home £185,255 in salary alone, far higher than the Prime Minister's £142,500 pay.

Some of them have used a loophole to take huge pension lump sums early by secretly 'quitting' for a day, working part-time for a month, then returning to their posts full-time on the same huge salary as before.

The provision was originally put in place to help lower-paid nurses and other NHS workers who might struggle to get by on just their pension and so should be allowed to continue to work part-time. But it has now become a lucrative loophole exploited by highly-paid executives.

Other bosses are maximising the value of their pay packets through tax avoidance strategies, channelling their huge salaries through private companies.

Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said: 'A future Conservative government would ask the Department of Health to look at the Mail's investigation in detail.'

Labour's Andy Burnham said: 'Labour will conduct a thorough investigation into this, as part of our plan to ensure pay fairness in the NHS.'

Pensions expert and Government adviser Dr Ros Altmann said the 'outrageous' way bosses were playing the system was 'on the scale of the MPs' expenses scandal'.

One boss earned £1.26million last year while her failing trust declared a financial deficit of £4.4million and was investigated over deeply concerning death and infection rates. Tricia Hart, chief executive of South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, was awarded a £35,000 rise, increasing her salary to £220,000.

She also had an additional £1million added to her NHS pension pot that year, bringing it to a total of £2.39million.

South Tyneside chief Lorraine Lambert withdrew from the NHS pension scheme when her pension pot approached the tax-free lifetime allowance limit, which was then £1.5million in 2012/13.

But the following year she took an extra £20,000 on top of her £165,000 salary – as 'compensation' for missing out on yet more NHS pension benefits after choosing to leave the scheme. And North Cumbria boss Mike Walker was handed more than £1million in 2013 – 40 times the average salary in his area. The former surgeon got a £220,000 tax-free pension lump sum when he turned 60 last year. He has officially 'retired' from his job as medical director with a £1.6million pension pot, but has returned to the trust on a 'flexible' contract.

South Tees Hospitals NHS Trust said Mrs Hart's salary increase was because she had been promoted from director of nursing to chief executive, adding that it 'had no influence on NHS pensions'.

South Tyneside NHS Trust said Ms Lambert's extra £20,000 was not a pay rise but an alternative 'taxable payment', adding that she had been entitled to take a pay rise of more than that amount under NHS pay scales anyway.

North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust said Mr Walker's salary of £170,000 had been 'in line with NHS pay scales' and his pay package was so high because he transferred an NHS Scotland accrued pension of £855,000 into the NHS pension scheme.

 

Source: Paul Bentley, Lucy Osborne and Katherine Faulkner for the Daily Mail

Additional reporting: Sara Smyth

 

 

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