An indebted hospital trust paid its interim chief executive as much for three months’ work as it would have cost to employ eight nurses for a year. He was paid more for one day’s work than a nurse earns in a month.
Dorset County Hospital NHS Trust paid Derek Smith £248,041 for 97 days’ work, which means he made £2,557 a day, as well as paying him £19,539 in expenses.
The salary was paid via an agency for his three to four days a week contract, running from September 2009 to the end of the last financial year in March.
After being presented with the trust’s yearly report and accounts for 2009-10, the board of governors was told it needs to cut £20 million from its budgets over the next three years in order to ensure it breaks even and begins to create a surplus.
Royal College of Nursing chief Dr Peter Carter said: “It is frankly unbelievable that these shockingly high sums of money continue to be spent at the same time that nurses and other staff are seeing frontline services cut and being asked to accept a pay freeze. This wasteful spending should be eradicated and resources must be directed to the frontline where they directly help patient care.
“The trust needs to justify why it was paying a rate equivalent to over half a million pounds a year for an interim chief executive.
“Sadly, this might be just a drop in the ocean as far as management consultant spend goes: the RCN identified last year that around £350 million was spent by NHS organisations on management consultants. Others estimate that it is much more.”
But Dr Jeffrey Ellwood, who chairs the trust, insisted: “I do not believe this is an excessive sum considering that under the leadership of the interims the trust has developed a recovery plan which now stands us in very good stead for tackling our financial challenges.”