A Lancashire MP has today accused ambulance bosses of pushing pay rises for senior managers “through the back door” while frontline staff struggle to make ends meet.
Lindsay Hoyle, Chorley MP and deputy speaker of the House of Commons, has reacted with fury to revelations that the North West Ambulance Service (NWAS) has allowed pay rises of up to 20 per cent for senior managers to stand while the rest of the staff have been enduring pay freezes or paltry rises.
The Evening Post revealed last year how NWAS senior managers had moved up the pay scale following a restructure.
Union chiefs were angered by the move and claimed the extra cash had been awarded without going through the proper evaluation panel covering all NHS staff and said the “heads in the trough” mentality was a kick in the teeth to the rest of the trust’s staff, who have not had a cost of living rise.
After the Evening Post highlighted the issue, ambulance bosses explained that the rises had been awarded after the posts of four senior managers were reduced to three with the remaining managers taking on additional responsibilities.
However, the trust pledged to evaluate the pay bands retrospectively to ensure the pay awards - some of which were as high as 20 per cent - were fair.
Mr Hoyle has now learned the pay rises have been deemed to be ‘accurate’ by the ambulance trust and he is questioning the transparency of the evaluation process.
He said: “I am furious about this. It is appalling that taxpayers’ money is being wasted on pushing pay rises through the back door for senior managers.
“This is unacceptable as the public purse is under the cosh at the moment, yet here we are seeing tax funded roles getting major rises.
“These organisations should be showing restraint like everyone else.
“The people being awarded rises are not people at the bottom of the ladder but those at the top.
“It is wrong of the ambulance trust to shuffle the cards around to create pay rises for those in charge while those on the frontline suffer.
“I have deep concerns about this and will continue to ask questions to get to the bottom of this matter.”
When news of the rises first broke, Mr Hoyle demanded a top-level investigation and questioned the future of North West Ambulance Service chairman Mary Whyham for sanctioning the rises without the proper process.
Bob Parkinson, Unite regional organiser, said: “We are continuing to request this matter is taken to an independent panel to have the jobs evaluated at another trust which would bring this matter to a conclusion.
“We have not had a legitimate panel as yet and are asking the ambulance service to let a neutral trust deal with the issue to ensure transparency and honesty in the pay bandings.
“We could then live with the outcome and move on with the job evaluation process in the organisation.
“The anger among our members remains strong and will not go away as they feel that this is far from being an open and transparent pay award.”
John Warren, area head of human resources at the North West Ambulance Service, said, “A review of the heads of service salary bands took place in early 2013 and it was concluded that the bandings awarded previously were correct.”
Michael Forrest, director of human resources, said: “As previously confirmed, a review did take place and the bandings awarded were appropriate.
“We were aware of Mr Hoyle’s concerns and our chairman Mary Whyham did offer to meet with him to discuss these and this offer still stands.”