Headlines: April 27th, 1997

The pay of NHS Trust chief executives rose by 6.2% in 1995/96 . Nurses secured 3.0% and most doctors 2.5%. Some doctors secured higher rises. Income Data Services, an independent research group, surveyed the annual reports of 396 trusts. The survey found that the typical basic salary rose to £62,000, but total remuneration was about £68,000. The highest paid chief executive was paid £118,000. Fewer bonuses were paid in 1994/95. Typical payments were about £5000 extending up to £15000.

Labour accused the Government of letting the pay of top health managers gallop out of control. Chris Smith, shadow health secretary, said Labour’s inquiries had found that 22 trusts had paid their chief executives a bonus, even though they reported a deficit. “Of course chief executives of important public services need to be properly and fairly rewarded, but these figures show that there is neither justice nor fairness operating,” he said. A Labour government would instruct the NHS executive to issue guidance on chief executives’ pay, including performance measures for bonuses. It would also require trusts to apply Greenbury principles and publish the full information about the pay of top peoples.

Stephen Dorrell, the Health Secretary, said the pay of chief executives was set locally and increases pitched at levels to attract and keep quality leaders. “One of the real gains we have made in the health service in the last couple of years, as a result of effective management, is that we have been able to cut £350m out of the bureaucratic costs,” Mr Dorrell said on BBC radio. “That has released extra resources to treat more patients and employ more doctors and nurses.”

Noel Flannery, Deputy Director the Institute of Health Services Management, said chief executives earned about £32,000 a year less than their private sector equivalents. “Yet again health service managers are being used as the scapegoats by politicians who have no answer to the growing problems of the NHS.”