North East health bosses' 'disgraceful, demoralising' pay rises condemned

Senior members of staff at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust saw their wages rise significantly - while nurses' have stood still

Health bosses at a North East health trust have been awarded huge pay rises despite frontline nurses struggling to get an across the board 1% increase.

Senior members of staff at Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust, which runs mental health services in the region, have seen their wages hike by up to 9.5% in the last two years.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust is currently undergoing significant change with its Transforming Services Programme which could see as many as 169 posts reduced under radical plans to change the way that care is delivered to vulnerable patients.

Former chief executive of the trust Gillian Fairfield, who left her post at the end of March this year, saw her salary rise the most from £182,700 in 2012/13 to £200,000 in 2013/14, a boost of £17,300.

Meanwhile, Lisa Quinn, executive director of performance and assurance, and Elizabeth Latham, former director of workforce and organisational development, had pay rises of 5.5%, with both their wages jumping from £100,000 to £105,500.

Nurses’ leaders and MPs have reacted with anger as the wage boosts come at a time when not all frontline NHS staff are being given a 1% rise. While some nurses and health care assistants will still get their incremental pay increase, which rewards experience and skills learnt after a length of service, many will not be entitled to the rise.

A hospital
 

The Government has insisted it cannot afford a general pay increase without putting frontline jobs at risk.

Glenn Turp, Royal College of Nursing Northern Regional Director said: “We are very concerned to learn that Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust awarded such a significant pay rise to Gillian Fairfield. When it comes to pay, it seems we are seeing one rule for NHS chief executives, and another for frontline nursing staff.

“Less than half of nursing staff at the top of their pay increment will get a paltry 1% pay rise this year, following three years of pay restraint. The rest will simply get what they are contractually entitled to, if they can demonstrate they have developed their skills in the previous year.

“And we know that, once inflation is factored in, NHS salaries have in fact been cut between 8% and 12% in real terms, between the period 2010 and 2014. A band three health care assistant working on the frontline earns £16,200 a year; less than this chief executive was awarded as a pay rise in one year. It’s disgraceful and demoralising for frontline workers.”

Health chiefs have insisted that since Northumberland, Tyne and Wear became a foundation trust in December 2009, executive directors had more responsibility and this was reflected in their salaries.

Chairman of the trust, Hugh Morgan Williams, said: “When a NHS trust gains foundation trust status it acquires a significant amount of managerial and financial freedom and a degree of independence from the Department of Health.

Newcastle East Labour MP Nick Brown
Newcastle East Labour MP Nick Brown
 

“Individual executive directors of the organisation therefore gain more responsibility, which you would expect to be reflected in their remuneration, amongst other things, due to the complexities of responsibilities directors have to undertake.

“Northumberland, Tyne and Wear became a foundation trust on December 1, 2009, and it had been agreed to commission an external review on authorisation as a foundation trust. This review was deferred on several occasions and took place during 2013/14. There was a commitment to back date any increases to the date of achieving Foundation Trust status and this commitment has now been honoured.”

Newcastle East MP Nick Brown said pay restraint in the NHS should be the same for everyone. He added: “If exceptions are to be allowed, we should start with those who are the least well-paid. There is no excuse for breaching the public sector pay policy just for those who are already amongst the highest paid.”

Dr Fairfield now works at Pennine Acute Hospitals NHS Trust and was unavailable for comment.

Northumberland, Tyne and Wear NHS Foundation Trust’s executive directors pay

Gillian Fairfield, former chief executive

Salary 2012/13: £182,700

Salary 2013/14: £200,000

% change: 9.5

James Duncan, executive director of finance and deputy chief executive

Salary 2012/13: £125,000

Salary 2013/14: £126,250

% change: 1%

Gary O’Hare, executive director of nursing and operations

Salary 2012/13: £107,124

Salary 2013/14: £109,800

% change: 2.5

Elizabeth Latham, former director of workforce and organisational development

Salary 2012/13: £100,000

Salary 2013/14: £105,500

% change: 5.5

Lisa Quinn, executive director of performance and assurance

Salary 2012/13: £100,000

Salary 2013/14: £105,500

% change: 5.5

Lisa Crichton-Jones, acting director of workforce and organisational development

Salary 2012/13: n/a

Salary 2013/14: £105,500

% change: n/a

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