Obscene pay rises for NHS managers

THERE were fresh calls last night for the East of England Strategic Health Authority to be abolished after it emerged its management costs soared by �1.3 million in just one year.

THERE were fresh calls last night for the East of England Strategic Health Authority to be abolished after it emerged its management costs soared by �1.3million in just one year.

The authority, which delivers no front line services but provides 'strategic leadership, oversight and support to all local NHS organisations', spent more than �13million on managers.

That was a 10pc increase on the 2007/08 figure, from �12,373m to �13,636m - and included a salary of up to �240,000 for its chief executive Neil McKay, a �20,000 pay rise from the previous year.

Last night, MPs and health campaigners said it was a slap in the face for the people of Suffolk who have been digging deep in their own pockets raising funds to improve services in Ipswich.

Dr Paul Cosford, director of public health, saw his salary rise by about 23pc from 125-130k to 155-160k and Lee Whitehead, director of communications, received �4k benefits in kind on top of his 105-110k salary, which rose about 16pc.

These 'obscene' pay rises come as the SHA has moved key services, including head and neck cancer services and critical heart attack care away from Ipswich.

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Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, renewed calls for the SHA to be abolished calling the jump in management costs 'madness'.

'At a time when it is very clear the NHS is suffering a shortage of doctors and nurses in some parts of the country the role of the SHA needs to be put under the spotlight,' he said.

'It is simply obscene to see these salary increases paid for by taxpayers, when absolutely nobody in the private sector has enjoyed a salary increase like this.

'They have no relationship with reality, this idea that management costs can rise by 10pc in one year is sheer madness and it certainly underlines my firm view that the sooner the SHA is abolished the better.'

Health campaigner Prue Rush called the salary increases a slap in the face for the people of Suffolk.

She said: 'They are abusing their position. They are getting higher wages as people on the front line are not getting their pay rises.

'The NHS is struggling to pay nurses and for care in the community yet the number of administrators keeps on rising. It is awful, it is just insulting to the people whose wages they won't increase.'

She said the constant increase in administrative costs reveals their inefficiencies, having to up the number of managers whilst struggling to boost front line services.

'It makes me so cross to see them spending all this money on these people, proving themselves they are inefficient. The money should be spent on front line staff,' she added.

She also criticised managers within the health service for having little appreciation of how a hospital functions, focusing on targets rather than allowing medical staff with the necessary expertise the chance to treat patients in the best possible way.

'They do not have the sufficient experience to understand when they put out these targets what it entails for front line staff trying to keep up,' she said.

But the authority hit back at the criticism saying national pay scales for senior NHS staff are dictated by the Department of Health.

The SHA said at director level their staff only received a rise of 2.2pc with the big boost in salaries coming from bonus payments not paid in 2007/08 because their performance was not good enough.

A spokesperson from NHS East of England said: 'We have made clear progress across the region on the issues that matter to patients, including waiting times; access to health screening; and dealing with Healthcare Associated Infections. The East of England had the lowest rates of healthcare associated infection in the country in 2008/09.'

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