With the National Heath Service continuing to resemble a patient on life-support, I’ve been meaning to comment on this subject for some time now, and latest events have only served as a trigger for doing so. It concerns the highly lucrative managerial merry-go-round of criminalistic suit jobs, who continue to parasitize money off the NHS that should be going to patients and front-line staff.
Basil Fozard retired as a hospital medical director earlier this summer to start drawing from his £1.9million NHS pension pot. Perfectly normal, in the great scheme of things. But then, he was swiftly rehired on a salary of £152,000 – about £20,000 more than he had been earning for the same job just a few weeks before. Mr Fozard made the move the day before Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt banned NHS bosses from boosting their pay in this way, despite his employer, the Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, declaring a £5.2million deficit. The Department of Health asked the hospital for an urgent explanation, describing the deal as ‘completely unacceptable’- with none as yet being provided.
Despite restrictions being announced to curtail NHS pay abuse including the obscene remuneration deals being claimed by failing NHS chiefs, the practice continues with hospital bosses, at many levels, keeping their snouts in the trough and handing themselves £35million in pay rises despite the worst funding crisis in a generation. Many earn more than the Prime Minister.
The most common ruse employed is the exploitation of a loophole in the NHS pension scheme allowing managers to ‘retire’, enjoy the associated benefits, and then return to their jobs on inflated salaries. Mr Fozards’ timing in his execution was impeccable, retiring on May 31 – a day before the crackdown. He could then start drawing benefits from his £1.9million pension, including a tax-free lump sum this year of at least £320,000. He then went back to his job on July 1, and his retirement and re-employment were never announced publicly; being concealed in a footnote of the trust’s latest accounts.
He enjoys substantial remuneration, yet in December 2013 – three months after he began as medical director – the Care Quality Commission found patients at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital were left in soiled beds, with staff complaining of being ‘unsupported and under too much pressure’.
This isn’t an isolated incident, and here’s another example that’s a little closer to home to me, here in Derby.
The Chief Executive of Derby Hospitals Healthcare Trust, Sue James, did exactly the same despite her Trust declaring massive losses, again continuing in her role a day later on almost £200k a year. Her past is equally seedy, once offering nearly £250k to gag a paediatric consultant who expressed concerns in management at the hospital where I was once a nurse, the Manor. James offered him £247,000 in public funds and a good reference to go quietly, joking that it would be a ‘nice birthday present’. After refusing, he was sacked. Months later, James became Chief Executive of Derby Hospitals Foundation Trust. Dr Drew has compared his former boss to a ‘second-hand car dealer’.
An excellent analogy, I think.
Having been described as ‘morally reprehensible’, she has refused to apologise or hand back the money gained from Derby Hospitals Trust, maintaining she is ‘fully entitled’ to the payout, whilst again, her failing Trust lost £15.7million; declaring a financial deficit for the first time.
Although drawing (I refuse to say the word ‘earning’) a salary of around £190,00, she felt entitled to claim an extra tax-free sum by retiring on March 30, 2014. She was re-hired 24 hours later, meaning she could receive her pension while still earning her gargantuan salary. Again, this supposed retirement and re-instatement was never announced, but buried in the small print in the hospital’s accounts. Similarly, the role that she reoccupied a day later was never advertised, with neither James or the Trust being willing to explain why her retirement was never announced, why they never advertised for a new chief executive or why she was then reinstated without telling the public.
Having been privileged to have worked on the front line in our NHS for many years, doing the work whose details and value these loathsome individuals have no comprehension of, this repugnant practice is one of the many reasons why one of this nations’ finest and most respected institutions, respected globally, is terminally haemorrhaging with no effort being made to at least, stabilise it’s critical condition.
If Sue James or Basil Fozard ever read this article, I would urge them to pull out a copy of the Oxford English Dictionary, and peruse one particular reference:
“Parasite (noun) 1. an animal or plant which lives in or on another animal or plant from which it obtains food 2. (derogatory) a person who lives off or exploits other people.”
I think David Drew’s’ description of Sue James as a ‘second-hand car dealer’, equally applicable to Basil Fozard, is entirely correct – although in their defence, car dealers have and deserve much more of a place and value in society than these two.
How dare someone be described as a shifty car-dealer? Arfur Daley must be turning in his grave right now…