Hospital chiefs ‘deserve top pay’
Tuesday 5th November 2013, 5:01PM GMT.
Hospital bosses deserve big pay packages because their jobs are among the most difficult in the world, according to the head of the NHS.
Sir David Nicholson defended salaries that can top £200,000 a year and urged people to stop “denigrating” health service managers.
He also blamed politicians for hefty redundancy payouts, saying constant reorganisation caused “turbulence”.
The comments came as the outgoing NHS chief executive gave evidence to MPs on the health select committee.
Sir David was asked about remarks by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh, who suggested significant salaries were needed to attract managers of “the right calibre”.
He declined to endorse Sir Bruce’s words, but stressed that the health service was going through “transformational change” and required “top-drawer people”.
Sir David – whose own salary is more than £210,000 – made clear that the overall NHS pay bill had to be kept under control amid huge financial pressures.
But he said it was wrong to scapegoat those earning large sums.
“If you constantly denigrate and criticise them, it’s hardly surprising that they respond to that,” Sir David said.
“They absolutely are highly paid jobs… They are amongst the most complex and difficult jobs in the world.
“Those chief executive jobs, the complexity of those are on a scale managerially that most of us would have difficulty to understand.”
Sir David pointed out that the system for setting pay had been established by politicians.
“There was a system set up by the Government – not by me – signed off by ministers which appraised every job through an external evaluation and put a salary against and that’s what people have got,” he said.
“We should not surprise by the salaries that people have got. People deserve the pay that the system that was set up identifies they should get.”
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has signalled he will block pay rises for senior staff at quangos, such as NHS England, with officials warning that clinical care will suffer unless there is restraint.
However, he does not have the power to do the same in NHS trusts.
Pressed on whether the health service was operating a “revolving door” where senior managers were made redundant only to be taken on elsewhere, Sir David insisted those who were re-employed would forfeit their payoffs.
“I have been in the NHS for 35 years. I have only applied for a job once that was not associated with a reorganisation,” he said.
“If people would stop constant reorganisation the NHS would have less turbulence.”