Health trust chiefs' salaries have increased by up to 13% in the North East, new figures have revealed.
Freedom of Information requests to NHS trusts have shown that the amount paid to executive directors over the last two years has increased by anything up to £25,000 compared to just a 1.6% rise in earnings for nurses, midwives or health visitors.
Nurses’ leaders in the region have hit out at the pay rises, which come a time when not all frontline NHS staff are being given a 1% hike in wages.
The findings of the Royal College of Nursing’s report - All in it together? The Executive pay bill in England’s NHS - shows that the chief executive of Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust, Ian Renwick, saw his wages rise by up to 13% from £185,000-£190,000 in 2011/12 to £205,000-£210,000 in 2012/13.
Meanwhile, figures for Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust’s chief executive, Jim Mackey, suggests that his salary rose by 9% from £225,000–£230,000 in 2011/12 to £240,000–£245,000 in 2012/13. However, the health trust has insisted that the findings are incorrect and there has been no pay increase as the rise relates to pension contributions.
Glenn Turp, Northern regional director of RCN said: “When it comes to pay, we are seeing one rule for NHS chief executives, and another for frontline nursing staff. The staggering inequity of the way NHS staff are being treated is completely unacceptable. So much for us all being in this together.
“A band three health care assistant earns between £16,200 and £19,200. But apparently, unlike NHS chief executives, the Government doesn’t think they are worth a pay rise. It’s disgraceful.”
The FOI figures come at a time when the Government has failed to honour a 1% pay rise to all frontline NHS staff this year.
Susan Johnson, 47, of Killingworth, a senior sister in critical care at North Tyneside General Hospital said: “It is a huge kick in the teeth. Day-to-day most staff are being asked to do a little bit more and we are going that one step further to continuously develop our skills. Yet chief executives are getting significant pay rises. It is demoralising for frontline staff.”
A spokesperson for Gateshead Health NHS Foundation Trust said: “The salaries of our chief executive and of all our executive directors are decided by an independent nominations and remuneration committee and this is to ensure they are in line with publicly available salary benchmarking information.
“As one of the country’s top performing NHS Foundation Trusts, it is important that those with ultimate accountability are remunerated appropriately so that we can retain the very best health care leaders in the North East NHS.”
Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust said that, along with the rest of its staff, no director has had an increase in pay since a pay freeze was implemented in 2011/12.
A Department of Health spokesperson said: “NHS Trusts, Foundation Trusts and clinical commissioning groups set pay for their very senior managers.
“We have an available budget of nearly £1bn for pay increases. We have offered to look at any proposal the unions make on how to use this money. However they have not put forward any proposals to help the lowest paid. Our door remains open if they wish to reconsider their position.
“The RCN’s figures should be used with caution - they have included exit packages for executive directors but not nurses. In fact, the latest independent evidence shows that for the third year running, there was no increase in median executive board pay.”
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