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RCN publishes ‘All in it together? The Executive pay bill in England’s NHS’

The pay bill for senior NHS managers is accelerating ahead of pay for nursing staff, research by the Royal College of Nursing has found.  FOI requests to NHS provider Trusts in England have revealed that the amount spent on Executive Directors over the last two years has increased by an average of 6.1%, compared to a 1.6% rise in earnings for nurses, midwives or health visitors.

The findings of the RCN’s report, ‘All in it together? The Executive pay bill in England’s NHS’, published on Monday as delegates arrive for the College’s annual Congress, follow the Government’s recent decision to ignore the independent Pay Review Body’s recommendation on nurses pay. The Government’s decision means that most nurses won’t be getting a cost of living increase this year, and those who are getting something will be receiving less than £5 a week.

In contrast, our research shows that 50% trusts have awarded salary increases of at least £5,000 to one or more executive director and a quarter have awarded increases in benefit in kind payments to at least one or more executive directors.

The figures also show that the highest increase in executive costs were in the Eastern region (14.81%) and that countrywide, increases were highest at acute specialist trusts (13%).  There are three other regions (East Midlands, North West and West Midlands) where increases were 10% or more.

The Government allows NHS trusts the freedom to set senior management remuneration and has said that it ‘believes that NHS employers should exercise these freedoms with responsibility and sensitivity to the position of staff who are subject to national contracts and restraint over their pay.’

In recent correspondence seen by the RCN, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Health, Dr Dan Poulter states that ‘the evidence suggests that most NHS employers are in fact doing this.’

The report’s findings fly in the face of this assertion.

It’s hardly surprising therefore that 96% of nursing staff who responded to an RCN survey said they feel undervalued and underappreciated.  83% said that the Government’s decision was causing anxiety about family finances and household bills.  And a further 66% said that the Government’s decisions about pay have made them think seriously about leaving the NHS.

Commenting, Chief Executive and General Secretary of the RCN, Dr Peter Carter said:

“The findings in this report are yet another kick in the teeth for hardworking and loyal nursing staff.

“It’s  extremely worrying that the Government believes that Trusts are acting responsibly when it’s clear many are failing to show the leadership they should on senior management remuneration.

“There are some Trusts and managers who have led by example and acted sensitively and they are to be commended.

“The Government has maintained an iron grip on the pay and benefits of frontline staff whilst the senior managers pay bill has seemingly gone unchecked. This is the worst kind of double standard and makes a mockery of their insistence that fairness has been at the heart of their decision making on public sector pay.

“The Government must also address the crisis in nursing morale.

“This country has one of the finest health care systems in the world and relies on talented and dedicated nursing staff to deliver the care and support that we depend on.

“Failing to pay nursing staff a decent wage will continue to affect nurses’ living standards and morale and cause many more to consider leaving the NHS which is bad for nurses, bad for the NHS and bad for the country.

“The Government should do the decent and honourable thing and give nurses a decent wage.”

Download the report ‘All in it together?  The Executive pay bill in England’s NHS’ (PDF)

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