At present this story may only be relevant to those of us who live in Suffolk, but who knows how long it will be before the same sort of thing is happening nationwide. It's quite a long report, taken from the Ipswich-based newspaper the East Anglian Daily Times - not normally known for its crusading stance. Be patient - the sting is in the tail.
There were fresh calls last night for the East of England Strategic Health Authority to be abolished after it emerged its management costs soared by £1.3million in just one year. The authority spent more than £13million on managers. That was a 10% increase on the 2007/08 figure, from £12,373m to £13,636m - and included a salary of up to £240,000 for its chief executive Neil McKay, a £20,000 pay rise from the previous year.
Dr Paul Cosford, director of public health, saw his salary rise by about 23% from 125-130k to 155-160k and Lee Whitehead, director of communications, received £4k benefits in kind on top of his 105-110k salary, which rose about 16%.
Last night, MPs and health campaigners said it was a slap in the face for the people of Suffolk who have been digging deep in their own pockets raising funds to improve services in Ipswich.
Richard Spring, MP for West Suffolk, renewed calls for the SHA to be abolished calling the jump in management costs “madness”. “At a time when it is very clear the NHS is suffering a shortage of doctors and nurses in some parts of the country the role of the SHA needs to be put under the spotlight,” he said. “It is simply obscene to see these salary increases paid for by taxpayers, when absolutely nobody in the private sector has enjoyed a salary increase like this. They have no relationship with reality, this idea that management costs can rise by 10% in one year is sheer madness and it certainly underlines my firm view that the sooner the SHA is abolished the better.”
Health campaigner Prue Rush called the salary increases a slap in the face for the people of Suffolk. She said: “They are abusing their position. They are getting higher wages as people on the front line are not getting their pay rises. The NHS is struggling to pay nurses and for care in the community yet the number of administrators keeps on rising. It is awful, it is just insulting to the people whose wages they won't increase.”
She said the constant increase in administrative costs reveals their inefficiencies, having to up the number of managers whilst struggling to boost front line services. “It makes me so cross to see them spending all this money on these people, proving themselves they are inefficient. The money should be spent on front line staff,” she added.
She also criticised managers within the health service for having little appreciation of how a hospital functions, focusing on targets rather than allowing medical staff with the necessary expertise the chance to treat patients in the best possible way. “They do not have the sufficient experience to understand when they put out these targets what it entails for front line staff trying to keep up,” she said.
But the authority hit back at the criticism saying national pay scales for senior NHS staff are dictated by the Department of Health. The SHA said at director level their staff only received a rise of 2.2% with the big boost in salaries coming from bonus payments not paid in 2007/08 because their performance was not good enough.
A spokesperson from NHS East of England said: “We have made clear progress across the region on the issues that matter to patients, including waiting times; access to health screening; and dealing with Healthcare Associated Infections. The East of England had the lowest rates of healthcare associated infection in the country in 2008/09.”
Well, isn't that all fine and dandy? The East of England has the lowest levels of "healthcare associated infection" in the country? Hospitals in East Anglia are sending patients home with infections they didn't have when they were admitted, and that's a matter for self-congratulation because it's even worse elsewhere? Is it just possible that the East of England has lower levels of healthcare associated infection because it has lower levels of healthcare?
But we promised you a sting in the tail, and here it is. We left it till last because we think it just beggars belief; you just couldn't make this stuff up, could you? ....
The East of England Strategic Health Authority, which spends £13million a year on "managers" and is ruled by a Chief Executive whose annual salary is £240,000, delivers no front line services at all.
Its function, apparently, is to provide “strategic leadership, oversight and support to all local NHS organisations”, whatever that means. Actually, what it has meant recently is that it has moved key services, including head and neck cancer services and critical heart attack care, away from Ipswich which is one of just four major urban centres in East Anglia, the others being Colchester, Cambridge and Norwich.
Imagine that. Thirteen million pounds a year, and not a single nurse, technician, doctor, surgeon or orderly. Thirteen million pounds a year, and not one patient. Thirteen million pounds a year for polishing office furniture.
We repeat, you couldn't make it up. But luckily you don't have to - this is the reality of the NHS under Nu Labour.
The GOS says: I'm really pleased to hear that the East of England Strategic Health Authority made clear progress in "access to health screening". How long will it be before this progress reaches me, I wonder?
I am 67 years old, have lived in East Anglia for the last 34 years, and I have never been offered any kind of health screening at all. Mrs.GOS gets called in regularly to have her lumps felt and her lady bits looked at, but me?
Not a sausage.
Doctors tell us that elderly men ought to be checked regularly for blood pressure, cholesterol levels, diabetes, heart problems, prostate, bowel and testicular cancer, but do they do it?
Do they buggery. I had to pay the local private hospital £350 for a day's testing (I think it was £300 for the tests and £50 for the prawn sandwich at lunchtime), which is a bloody expensive way to get someone to stick their finger up your bum. It was a nice sandwich, though.
There's quite a good article about private health screening here.
either on this site or on the World Wide Web.
Copyright © 2009 The GOS