SHA management costs ‘cannot be justified’

AN INCREASE of �1.6million in the annual management costs of the regional health authority simply cannot be justified, say health campaigners.

The East of England Strategic Health Authority, which is due to be disbanded in an NHS reshaping exercise by 2013, spent �15.287m on management costs in 2009/10, a rise of more than �1.6m – or 11% – on the previous 12 months.

Health campaigners have questioned the increased spending, which has come in the midst of one of the worst financial crises in decades, and claim the SHA, which employed 318 people in 2009, is overstaffed with “layers and layers” of managers. But the increase in management costs was defended by the NHS which it said was due in part to new responsibilities.

However, the rise in management costs is compounded by the fact that many of the top-earning directors and executives actually had their pay frozen or reduced.

Chief executive Sir Neil McKay saw his salary drop from the �235,000-�240,000 bracket to between �230,000-�235,000 while regional director of public health Dr Paul Cosford, director of commissioning Dr Paul Watson and director of strategy Dr Stephen Dunn were among the senior staff that saw their annual salaries go down.

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The new figures, contained in the SHA’s annual report, reveal that the SHA’s overall spending on management costs has risen by nearly �3m between 2007/8 and 2009/10.

An NHS East of England spokeswoman defended the rise in management costs, which were partly attributed to new responsibilities.

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She said: “NHS East of England’s annual management cost allowance is set by the Department of Health to cover its main regional activities, and some new national responsibilities.

“Managing these new responsibilities, which include the NHS Direct contract, account for most of the increase in management costs from 2007/08 to 2009/10.

“Along with the rest of the NHS, NHS East of England is reducing its management costs by �2m this year, with a further �2.5m planned for the next year.”

Health campaigner Prue Rush described the latest rise as a “slap in the face” for the frontline workers in the NHS and for taxpayers expecting value for money.

She said: “There isn’t any way they can justify these levels of management fees. We seem to have layers and layers of management who feel that the recession doesn’t apply to them – but nobody is immune.

“What really gets me is can they not see that all they are doing is angering the rest of the taxpaying public? I applaud the people that are making some kind of gesture (by taking a pay cut) but it does seem to be a token gesture. What we need is value for money.

“Are they really worth �200,000 or more? What are they producing that is giving back that much and a bit more to the taxpayer?”

She said there were some “very good people doing very good jobs” at the SHA but too many of the top earners were in it for “the status” rather than for delivering value for money.

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