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Trust asks to pay nursing exec more than prime minister


A mental health trust at the centre of poor care allegations has applied to pay a senior nurse more than David Cameron.

Southern Health NHS Foundation Trust, which has come under scrutiny over a series of unexplained patient deaths, made the request in regard of appointing a new nursing and therapies director.

It is among 15 trusts that have applied for permission to the Department of Health to pay at least one board member more than the prime minister’s £142,500 annual salary.

The news comes after the chief executive and chair of the new regulator NHS Improvement said recruiting the right managers was the most difficult issue facing the provider sector.

In June, Jeremy Hunt wrote to trust chairs questioning whether board members should be paid more than the prime minister and said any new appointment above this level would have to be approved by the Treasury.

A Freedom of Information Act request to the Department of Health from Nursing Times’ sister title Health Service Journal reveals there were 17 applications from 15 trusts to appoint at least one person above this rate as of December (see box).

The trusts requesting directors get paid more than £142,500

  • Chelsea and Westminster Hospital FT – chief executive
  • Kings College Hospital FT – chief executive
  • Surrey and Borders Partnership FT – medical director
  • Northern Lincolnshire and Goole FT – medical director
  • Colchester University Hospitals FT – chief executive
  • Kent Community Health FT – chief executive
  • Birmingham and Solihull Mental Health FT – medical director
  • Birmingham Children’s Hospital FT – acting chief executive and chief medical officer
  • Sherwood Forest Hospitals FT – chief executive
  • Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals FT – chief executive
  • East Kent University Hospitals FT – chief executive
  • St George’s University Hospitals FT – chief operating officer
  • Royal Surrey County Hospital FT – chief executive
  • South Staffordshire and Shropshire Healthcare FT – chief executive
  • Southern Health FT – nursing and therapies director; and operations director – mental health, learning disabilities and social care

The data also shows a request for a salary of £225,000 for Mark Davies, chief executive at Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals Foundation Trust. Chelsea and Westminster Hospital FT applied for a salary of £200,000 for its chief executive, who is now Lesley Watts.

NHS Improvement chief executive Jim Mackey last week identified the difficulty in recruiting to leadership positions in trusts as “the hardest part” of the situation faced by the provider sector.

He told the first joint meeting of the Monitor and NHS Trust Development Authority boards: “If we are honest… that is the hardest part of it at the moment, recruiting.” He added that in “the short term, we can’t do anything about it”.

Jim Mackey

Jim Mackey

Jim Mackey 

The health secretary has given conflicting messages to the NHS on how much people in top jobs should be paid. In February 2014, Mr Hunt told HSJ he had no problem with managers being paid more than the prime minister if they were “outstanding” candidates.

But in June 2015, he told The Daily Mail that “the NHS needs to make every penny count, so it is right to question why so many staff are paid more than the prime minister.



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Readers' comments (8)

  • Only one word needed. Greed

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  • If you research more in depth to this you will see the pay rises and salaries of these 'managers' is preposterous. So what about the excellent nurses and doctors out there? Do we not deserve a larger salary. No, aparently we have to keep quiet with our salary and working conditions. Funny how this doesn't apply to those at the top.
    Perhaps practicing what they preach and leading by example comes to mind. Selfish and greedy I will add to that. I thought 'we were all in this together' but clearly it's just the front line staff who are taking the cuts and being overloaded with work and pressure.

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  • What is needed is a Freedom Of Information request to see how much is being paid to management consultants across the NHS - not those in the regular permanent posts. If the NHS stopped hiring these staff, the NHS deficit would vanish overnight.

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  • Note this is suddenly a big issue because it is a Director of Nursing, not a Medical Director or Chief Exec.
    I suspect the DoN that inherits the challenges there must have exceptional skills and experience.
    Why should only fat cats be rewarded, and why is a Head Politician (with many more financial incentives than a basic slary), more worthy than a Head Nurse?

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  • Completely agree with 1:58 pm. This is only an issue because it is a nurse. The hypocrisy of nursing astounds me; first we say we don't get enough, now it's too much. With a role such as this comes great responsibility and accountability and it's short sighted to suggest it is not worthy of a salary commensurate with this, merely because it is a nurse in the role.

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  • I think the link should also be made in assessing how such greed is encouraged, such as the overall approaches used within each trust. We all know at the heart of it, nobody rational cares whether it's a nurse or not, what matters is that its stupid money. It's not about whether someone deserves it or not - deserve in such circumstances is the domain of the inflated ego. If there is an overall approach being used throughout and it is leading to cut backs, denial of facts & H&S issues - but also americanisation in approach to pushing cut backs then I would strongly suggest we have government approved criminal elements at the top. The old boy networks need to be exposed both senior management and boards so as to bring them to book - I would suggest the future will catch up with these individuals and they are indeed living on borrowed time - the clock is ticking as it were. The privilege of the few 'fat controllers' aka fat cats has to end. Let the icy chill run up their necks and allow reality of right funding take its place.

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  • Perhaps Jim Mackey might then explain why his salary as chief exec of Northumbria Healthcare, the post from which he is currently seconded, is above that of the PM?

    I also know that directors of my old MH trust were paid more than £142 500 pa.

    This is far more common than is made clear and obvious.

    Published accounts of trusts can make very interesting reading...

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  • This would make a good documentary for panorama where connection could be made to the overpaid with failing trusts or those that attempt to hide it. I suspect the BBC would have a field day with many of the trusts listed.

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