Revolving Doors: EDP: ‘It really is a disgrace’ – Norfolk community health bosses anger union with staff wage cuts

Tom Bristow of the Eastern Daily Press reports:

Norfolk Community Health and Care Trust (NCH&C) looks after thousands of patients a day through nurses and therapists visiting people in their homes, as well as in community hospitals, including Norwich Community Hospital on Bowthorpe Road.

But it has angered Unison by increasing total board wages and cutting average staff pay, meaning the trust’s 3,000 workers are now paid lower on average than they were four years ago – and more cuts are on the way.

NCH&C is taking another £3.3m from its wage bill this year, according to Unison.

We’re all in this together.

“Where staff are required to do different roles at a lower banding, we apply a period of protected pay,” a spokesperson said.

That’s nice.

Unison regional organiser Jeff Keighley accused NCH&C bosses of “devouring the organisation in favour of financial aspirations”.

The latest annual staff survey from 2015 showed NCH&C scored above average in one out of 32 measures.

It also revealed almost a quarter of workers had experienced harassment, bullying or abuse from other staff at the trust.

But NCH&C said it had low rates of bullying and harassment compared to other NHS trusts in the region.

Which other trusts could they mean?

Mr Keighley also accused the trust of creating a “pay bonanza” for executives, while there had been a “harsh down banding of clinical staff”.

In 2014/15 NCH&C had three different chief executives, which cost taxpayers £300,000.

Its annual accounts show interim chief executive Mark Easton cost the trust £200,000 for five-and-half months work.

Mark Easton trotted in after former NCH&C Chief Executive, Michael Scott, joined Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) for a £35,000 per year increase in salary. Scott even received £8,000 in ‘relocation expenses’ when he moved from being the Norwich-based Chief Executive of NCH&C to being the Hellesdon-based Chief Executive of NSFT. We make that £2,000 per mile. What an excellent use of NHS funds.

“This figure was consistent with market rates at the time,” a spokesperson for NCH&C said.

They added the trust’s remuneration committee approved all executive salaries and appointments.

That’s all right then: Deep breaths as snouts burrow deep into the trough. If it is good enough for the CCG bosses, it is good enough for the trust bosses.

While total board salaries have risen by 18pc since 2013/14 from £685,000 to £810,000 last year, average staff pay has fallen.

It is now lower than it was in 2012, standing at £26,014, compared to £26,556 four years ago, a fall of eight percent with inflation.

Who is the Finance Director of NCH&C now? It couldn’t possibly be former Finance Director, Andrew Hopkins, who oversaw down banding and cuts to the workforce at NSFT, could it? The same Andrew Hopkins who appears to have been paid for six months ‘not working’ between his cushy NHS jobs?

But Mr Keighley said: “There have been massive Cost Improvement Programmes which savagely reduced wages for the workforce.

“This is completely wrong. So many staff have lost thousands of pounds per year in pay and contributions to their pension by down banding.” The union said NCH&C had previously reduced the wage bill by putting staff in lower pay brackets.

Mr Keighley said: “The most important factor here is that downskilling staff and numbers impacts on the service and we expect to see a fall in quality for patients.

“Presently it is only maintained by staff leaving work later that they should. We have had so many disputes over unfair restructures, it really is a disgrace.”

Why is it always front line staff and services that bear the brunt of funding cuts?

The CCGs and trusts in Norfolk are spending more than one million pounds with accountancy firm KPMG on cuts consultancy and the secretive Sustainability and Transformation Plan (STP) . And we’re hearing more alarming stories about revolving doors…

Isn’t it government cuts and the greed and incompetence of local NHS management that is the cause of the crisis in the NHS in the East of England?

Click on the image below to read the full story on the EDP website:


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