Golden goodbyes in NHS pay-offs

Tim Ellis
Tim Ellis
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Workers have been given ‘golden goodbyes’ of nearly £40,000 on average by the NHS in central Lancashire, it was revealed today.

Unions have criticised the redundancy pay-offs as a “waste of money” and claimed the staff should have been redeployed to directly benefit patient care.

Thirty-one staff have been made redundant at NHS Central Lancashire since July last year – at a total cost of £1,227,690 – as it attempts to slash bureaucracy costs.

Figures from the PCT show that between July 2010 and April 2011, an average redundancy payment of £47,364 was made to 20 workers - totalling £1,038,651 for the year.

Since April this year, the average redundancy payment has been £17,149 to 11 staff - £189,039 so far.

NHS Central Lancashire has also revealed the average payout to senior managers has been £51,829.141 and the largest redundancy payout to a member of staff was £115,000.

Tim Ellis, regional organiser for health union UNISON, said: “This is a complete waste of money for the NHS.”

Under Government plans, primary care trusts will be abolished and replaced by GP consortiums.

But even before the major shake-up, organisations have been expected to make substantial savings by cutting management and corporate costs.

Many trusts have reduced their headcount, but existing NHS contracts mean they face paying out large sums before seeing any salary savings.

Pre-existing contracts mean some NHS employees who are made redundant are eligible for up to two years’ salary if they have worked for the NHS long enough by receiving one month’s pay for every year of service.

This means chief executives can potentially take home more than £250,000, while senior managers could pocket up to £200,000.

A more recently introduced programme is less generous. Under the Mutually Agreed Resignation Scheme (MARS), employees can claim up to a year’s salary if they have 24 years’ service.

Figures from NHS Central Lancashire show that since July 2010, the total MARS payments made to staff has been £399,421.

In comparison, workers in the private sector receiving statutory redundancy pay are entitled to a week’s pay for each year of employment between the age of 22 and 40 and a week-and-a-half’s pay for each year above the age of 41. Statutory redundancy pay is not given for more than 20 years of employment.

Mr Ellis said: “The cost of this Government’s reorganisation of the NHS is shown by these figures. As well as costing the NHS so much money, it is taking away care from patients.

“There is a huge amount of experience being lost.”

Mike Maguire, NHS Central Lancashire’s director of performance improvement, said: “The commissioning arm of our organisation was restructured following a 90-day consultation with staff.

“The changes came about due to the need to make management and corporate cost savings as outlined in the NHS Operating Framework.

“Published in June 2010, it set out the need for strategic health authorities and primary care trust to reduce back office costs by at least £572m nationally by the end of 2011/12, with savings to be re-invested in patient care.

“Every effort was made to avoid unnecessary redundancies, through the retraining and redeployment of staff wherever possible.

“However, the size of the challenge meant there were some redundancies.

“The commissioning restructure process concluded on April 4 and most of the affected staff have now left.

“A small number are still working for the NHS on external secondment or temporary contract extensions.

“We are absolutely committed to ensuring we continue our good work to improve health and health services.”