UNISON, who represent 5,500 healthworkers in Leicestershire, described the decision to pay Mr Smith such a huge amount of money as “an insult to the commitment and dedication of ordinary healthworkers”.
Leicestershire Health UNISON branch secretary, Mandy Marsden, said, “It was bad enough that our last boss, Dr Peter Reading, was paid £750,000 to leave his job. And we knew that Derek Smith was going to be costly. At his last NHS job, as Chief Executive of the Hammersmith Hospitals NHS Trust, he became the highest paid boss of any NHS Trust in the country when his salary topped £200,000 a year in 2003/04. And he left that job in June this year to become a ‘consultant’ - so he could set his own rate of pay. So in many ways we are not surprised that he is going to take such a large amount out of Leicester’s hospital budget, but we are very, very angry. That money could have been used to treat patients.”
“There is nothing he can do that can justify that amount of money.”
UNISON says that Leicester’s hospitals are now on the brink of a crisis. “There’s a real danger that this could be the ‘last straw’ for many staff,” explained Ms Marsden. “This has been an awful year to work in the NHS in Leicestershire. They brought in Capita to mess up everyone’s wages, cut staffing numbers so that we don’t have enough staff on the wards to care for patients the way we would like, closed wards leaving us over-stretched on all three sites, and used the new NHS pay system to down-grade Clinic Coordinators - the people who are the ‘face of the hospital’ to tens of thousands of outpatient attenders.
“On top of all that, the UHL management got embroiled into a Private Finance rebuilding project which we’d been telling them for years that they could not afford, and which eventually cost Peter Reading his job. Finally, the NHS pay rise this year will not even keep rate with inflation - unless you are a Chief Executive, obviously.”
“Most staff are struggling to make ends meet - at work where every budget has been cut to the bone, and at home because of the poor pay in the NHS. It’s another world at the top, and one where they simply don’t seem to understand what life is like as a hospital porter, nursing assistant or secretary.”
Meanwhile in Wolverhampton..
ICU nurses at a Wolverhampton’s New Cross Hospital have voted for a consultative strike ballot over proposals to cut their pay. The Royal Wolverhampton Hospitals NHS Trust wants to merge its general and cardiac ICUs into a single unit.
Proposals that will come into effect in December will reduce the number of Agenda for Change band seven nurses from 16 to 10, the number of band six nurses from 83 to 35 and increase the number of band five nurses from 39 to 106.
The trust has also claimed that their initial Agenda for Change pay bands agreed in 2004 were a mistake – but instead of claiming the money back, nurses would have to take a pay cut in December.
Peter Lowe, Unison regional organiser, said: “The trust has said that staff will either be moved anywhere the it determines if they wish to retain their band six post or if they want to continue working on ICU, they will have to accept the minimal band five post without any pay protection.”