NHS trusts and other organizations overseen by the Department of Health and Social Care have agreed £42m worth of staff pay in 2021/22, including 36 “golden goodbyes” worth more than £150,000 each.
Over the past five years, 324 workers in the health and care sector were paid more than £150,000, with 44 receiving more than £200,000, according to an analysis of DHSC data.
The revelation comes as ministers prepare to spend another £100 million on restructuring NHS England. Union bosses said low-wage health workers would “struggle to understand” the millions spent on payslips.
While the NHS is in a recruitment crisis, hundreds of millions of pounds have been spent on exit packages due to repeated restructuring, agreed departures and other redundancies.
Since 2017/18, the DHSC has overseen over 17,700 redundancies and departures. The total cost of exit packages across the Department, health trusts, executive agencies and other organizations it oversees has been around £386m.
New rules came into force in November 2020 to cap public sector payments at £95,000, but were repealed in February 2021.
NHS England is about to launch a voluntary redundancy scheme as it looks to cut at least 6,000 jobs in a merger with NHS Digital and Health Education England. A £100m pot has been allocated for the exit package and other costs equivalent to £100,000 per post for the 1,000 jobs to be cut in the first round. This figure also includes other costs such as legal services and advice. NHS England has not provided the total cost for the restructuring which is expected to include at least another 5,000 posts.
The planned payments come after an influx of senior employees during the pandemic. A report published last May by thinktank Policy Exchange, Devolve to Evolve?, found that NHS England’s total workforce during the pandemic rose by 67% from 6,102 to 10,215 from February 2020 to February 2022, with a large increase in senior roles.
Sarah Gorton, head of health at the Unison union, said: “It is right that workers who lose their jobs as a result of the merger receive fair compensation. But workers in other parts of the NHS will struggle to understand that at a time like this the big Why is the amount of money being spent when services are struggling. NHS vacancies are also at an all-time high and staff are being told there is no money to pay increases.
Mark Cubbon, chief delivery officer at NHS England, said: “The NHS is already one of the most efficient health services in the world, with lower administrative costs than Germany and France, NHS England has decided to reduce the size of its organization committed. Up to 40% as it brings three organizations together. For the taxpayer, this process will save £400 million a year by the time it’s completed – money that can be reinvested in frontline care and for our staff Could