Greed: EADT: ‘Inadequate’ mental health trust NSFT slammed for directors’ £10,000 pay rises

Gemma Mitchell of the Eastern Anglian Daily Times has one of the most shocking exclusives we have ever read about the Board of Shame of Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT):

Campaigners have reacted with outrage after it emerged four bosses at the region’s failing mental health trust were each awarded £10,000 pay rises last year.

When NSFT was briefly released from Special Measures, was the priority of the Board improving the quality of mental health services? Or was it trousering £10,000 pay rises each?

These completely unjustifiable pay rises demonstrate the complete breakdown of corporate governance and ethics on the NSFT Board of Shame, where the needs of those who rely on mental health services are secondary to the avarice of the Board of Shame. Perhaps we should call it the Board of No Shame?

Ms Armstrong left the trust in January this year and received a £54,000 contractual payment in lieu of notice, which meant she could leave without working her notice period. Three months later she got a job at Colchester Hospital as head of operations for medicine and emergency care.

The former NSFT Director of Operations in Suffolk, Alison Armstrong, trousered an extra £5,000 because of her massive pay rise just before she left NSFT in January 2017 with a £54,000 pay out.

Three months later Alison Armstrong was working in the NHS again at Colchester Hospital.

Dr Sayer and Ms Howlett both resigned last month after Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) was rated ‘inadequate’ by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and plunged into special measures for the second time.

After NSFT was rated inadequate by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) and placed into Special Measures for an unprecedented second time, the NSFT Director of Nursing, Jane Sayer, and Director of Strategy and Resources, Leigh Howlett, suddenly left NSFT’s Board of Shame. Both are apparently continuing to trouser their increased salaries of £108,000 per year which were ‘subject to the Trust coming out of special measures’, even though the trust is back in special measures and they are not working for NSFT.

Of the directors who received pay rises of more than ten per cent, only poor Debbie White, Director of Operations (Norfolk), is still expected to work for her money. Though, of course, it would be factually inaccurate to call her poor after her staggering £10,000 pay rise.

All this money, tens of thousands of pounds, comes from NHS funding which is supposed to be spent on patient care.

A spokeswoman for NSFT said: “The remuneration committee is responsible for determining the pay for executive directors and ensuring that pay levels are competitive. The committee holds an annual review of pay levels, taking account of available national, independent benchmarking information.

Isn’t it strange that highly-paid remuneration consultants’ benchmarking exercises nearly always discover that executives are underpaid?

Does the very round number of £10,000 sound like the result of a rigorous benchmarking exercise or a figure plucked out of the air as the largest increase that they thought they could get away with?

We understand that the ridiculously-titled Company Secretary of NSFT, Robert Nesbitt, has also received a substantial pay rise. Strange that, given that company secretaries would normally be involved in the commissioning of benchmarking exercises. How could Robert Nesbitt be expected to survive on a mere £81,618 per year plus expenses?

We also hear rumours that other NSFT directors have received pay rises while the pay of front line staff has been frozen or restricted to one per cent pay rises and mental health services have been cut.

We don’t know if the interim Chief Executive of NSFT, Julie Cave, is receiving Michael ‘pay out’ Scott’s outrageous salary. But we do know that she was being paid more as NSFT’s Finance Director than her predecessor, Andrew Hopkins, and more than she was paid to do a larger and more complicated job at the Norfolk and Norwich University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (NNUH) before she left her job when NNUH went into Special Measures because its finances were a disaster.

No wonder Peter Devlin was so keen to take over from Alison Armstrong in Suffolk. £108,000 per year keen.

Yet, as NSFT’s directors helped themselves to massive pay rises, NSFT’s Annual Report and Accounts 2016-17 shows that the median salary of NSFT employees fell by £289 (p. 33).

We’ve never known empty seats around the table of the Board of Shame. But NSFT has hundreds of vacancies for front line staff. Where is the expensive benchmarking exercise for them?

“An increase of £10,000 each was therefore recommended and approved (subject to the trust coming out of special measures, which it did) for the trust’s two directors of operations, the director of nursing, quality and patient safety, and the director of strategy and resources. This brought their individual wages to £108,000.

“This was in line with the average for mental health trust directors and more generally within the region.

Did they benchmark salaries against the very worst in the country? Thought not.

The Campaign to Save Mental Health Services in Norfolk and Suffolk has slammed the move by NSFT.

A spokesman said: “These astonishing pay rises represent the unacceptable face of NSFT management.

“While NSFT bosses awarded themselves £10,000 pay rises for leaving special measures, NSFT was heading towards another inadequate CQC inspection, a return to special measures and the ignominy of becoming the undisputed ‘worst mental health trust in the country’.

“As mental health services have been cut and the remaining front line NSFT staff were restricted to a maximum of 1% pay rises, NSFT bosses decided to help themselves to pay rises more than ten times greater.”

He added: “Surely, now that the failure of NSFT’s management has again been exposed by the CQC, these unjustifiable rewards for failure should be removed from the recipients and instead invested in overstretched NHS services.”

NSFT staff union, Unison, also comments:

UNISON, the public sector union, is running a pay campaign urging the Government to scrap the 1% cap.

Jeff Keighley, regional organiser for UNISON in Suffolk, said: “This is public money. Obviously a trust’s remuneration committee would be where this is decided presently, but should it be? Frankly this decision needs to be fair from all angles.

“Why such a sudden measure was taken of a 10% rise for directors; when their staff, who work on the front line delivering care and support and are worth at least the same only get 1%, means the decision was clearly wrong. Cost of living is up for everyone and dedicated front line staff have lost out on pay rises worth thousands vs inflation in recent years.”

Read the article in full on the EADT website by clicking on the image below:


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