NHS bosses are being handed pay rises of more than £5,000 and bonuses of tens of thousands of pounds while front-line staff are worried about how they will pay their bills, leading nurses have said.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) said pay for NHS executive directors has increased by an average of 6.1 per cent over the last two years while nurses, midwives and health visitors have only seen a 1.6 per cent rise in earnings.
Half of NHS trusts have awarded a salary increase of at least £5,000 to one or more executive directors, according to freedom of information responses from 126 NHS trusts in England.
And numerous executives are being paid substantial bonuses on top of their salaries, the RCN said, with two chief executives receiving bonuses of at least £40,000.
At the same time, nurses have struggled to keep pace with the rising cost of living, the College’s latest report, All In It Together?, states.
The RCN said most nurses will not get a cost of living increase this year, and those who are getting something will be receiving less than £5 extra a week.
The College, which meets this week for its annual congress in Liverpool, has criticised the Government’s decision not to implement a 1 per cent pay rise for all NHS staff working in England.
The pay review body (PRB) recommended a 1 per cent increase for all health staff, but ministers rejected the decision, saying the 1 per cent will only be given to employees not entitled to an incremental pay increase.
Unions have estimated this will leave 70 per cent of nurses facing a wage freeze this year.
A poll of 17,000 nurses across the country found that almost all (96 per cent) feel “undervalued and under-appreciated”. Some 83 per cent said the Government’s decision was causing anxiety about family finances and household bills.
And two thirds said the ruling over pay has made them think seriously about leaving NHS employment.
An RCN spokesman said ministers leave NHS trusts to set their own pay but expect them to exercise these freedoms with sensitivity to the position of staff that are subject to national pay restraints.
Dr Peter Carter, chief executive and general secretary of the RCN, said: “The findings in this report are yet another kick in the teeth for hard-working 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.
“The Government has maintained an iron grip on the pay and benefits of front-line 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.“