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Thursday, September 29, 2011

Looking after the bosses

When I spoke in the Welsh Government's debate on public services on Tuesday I pointed out that Ministers had a bit of a cheek lecturing Councils about joint appointments and saving money when they were retaining 50 or more executives in the NHS on protected salaries despite the fact that their jobs have been restructured out of existence.

This morning's Western Mail has up-to-date details following a freedom of information request by a Plaid Cymru AM.

These figures show that more than 50 executives earning up to almost £97,500 are still on protected pay as part of the All Wales Organisational Change policy. One member of staff in Powys has had their salary protected for 14 years from April 3, 2006 until April 2, 2020:

The Western Mail reported last year how more than 120 senior executives, who failed to win jobs when the NHS was reorganised in 2009 and had been re-deployed elsewhere in the health service or Welsh Government, were still entitled to their previous salaries.

Those with 15 years’ service will continue to be paid at their previous salary level for 10 years.

The Welsh NHS Confederation, which represents senior NHS management, said the strategy helped minimise the need for compulsory redundancy, which could be traumatic to the individual concerned and expensive for the NHS.

Seven NHS trusts and 22 local health boards were abolished in October 2009 and seven new integrated health boards created to provide community, hospital and mental health services across Wales.

As a result of this reorganisation – the biggest in a generation – the number of board-level posts fell from 180 to 78.

Salaries for these jobs in the 22 former local health boards ranged from £25,000 to more than £100,000 a year.

And in the former NHS trusts annual salaries ranged from £50,000 for the estates director at a smaller trust to £195,000 paid to the medical director at one of the larger trusts.

Not a single administrator’s job was lost as a result of the organisation. Although dozens of highly-paid top management posts disappeared, no-one was invited to apply for voluntary redundancy or otherwise forced to take it.

Fifty-six NHS executives whose jobs disappeared were kept on without a permanent role.

The figures released yesterday show the total cost of pay protection as a result of health board creation up to June this year at Abertawe Health Board was £96,400.

At Betsi Cadwaladr it was £145,162, at Cardiff and Vale it was £175,405 up to July and at Hywel Dda it was £23,947 up to August.

Aneurin Bevan’s costs are £55,673 a year and at Cwm Taf £45,664 a year. Powys has no costs as a result of pay protection as an employee with 14 years’ protection is covered under another scheme.

It is of course deeply ironic that it is a Plaid Cymru AM who is highlighting this now. After all, that party was in government when this policy was introduced and their AMs passionately defended it at the time against criticism by the Welsh Liberal Democrats and the Tories.
'Protected Pay'!!, ...Should be only people elected to office have this right
Just goes to show that Plaid are effective in opposition.
One hopes, expects even, that you will be equally critical of LibDem failures whilst in coalition with the Tories at Westminster.

Plaid was not directly responsible for health, yet their AMs had to keep the One Wales Government in power.

Same goes for the LibDems on such issues as student tuition fee increases.

I for one, and I'm sure it goes for the silent millions in the electorate, are fed up to the back teeth of hypocrisy from elected politicians.
Plaid Cymru had collective responsibility for everything that the One Wales Government did irrespective of ministerial responsibility. That is especially so given that Plaid AMs actively argued in favour of this particular policy.

The same applies to the Lib Dems in Westminster and yes, I am critical when they get it wrong espeially onm tuition fees, though it is now clear that neither Labour nor the Tories would have supported us in abolishing fees and consequentlyn we did not have the votes to implement our policy.

the hypocrisy in this case lies with Plaid, and yes Shambo, they are more effective in opposition. They were rubbish in government.
It's good the number of 'estates administrators' (public sector word for accountant) has been cut.

There is still an issue with senior clinical staff. These are former surgeons and doctors who have the role of 'medical director'. The role involves ensuring that the NHS is staffed with clinicians the right skills. As an example, it takes up to 20 years to train a good brain surgeon, and only a senior clinician is in a position to assess and ensure these skills are covered and deployed. The question arises, if some of these posts has disappeared due to the reduction in the number of health boards: Is it more expensive to loose these skills from the NHS completely, or keep a few on with the same pay, in a more junior role? The redundancy terms are UK wide.

It would be daft to pay off a medical director at high cost, only to then find the individual them tendering from the private sector as an external consultant to the NHS. This was the logic in the period of 'grace' in redeployment. It's a bit cheap to say that 'Plaid were in coalition' when the reorganisation took place, great things were achieved. Leanne Wood AM is quite correct to obtain the information, to see how it is progressing, and determine what further action can now be taken to further reduce the financial burden.

Regarding the other comment. Peter Black stood in the Senedd and welcomed the reprieve of district hospitals. It was also Plaid who managed to get some neurosurgery maintained at Morriston. That protects its level one trauma status, including the burns and plastics department. How does Peter think this was Plaid 'rubbish'? Is he now saying that clinical directors kept on the payroll for this, is now 'waste'? However, Leanne is quite right to argue that costs should be reviewed.
The point is that the number of estate administrators have been cut but we are still paying them. And there is nothing cheap about pointing out that Plaid Cymru were in Government at the time. They held collective responsibility and they cannot escape that.

I acknowledge that some good things were done by One Wales. I would be surprised if that was not the case but saving neurosurgery at Morriston was not one of them. Both Plaid Cymru and Labour went back on their pledge to retain this service and allowed it to be transferred to Cardiff.

Morriston does not have an official status as a trauma centre and the decision on neurosurgery makes it less likely that it will acquire such status.
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