Public services waste £1.5m on ‘non jobs’
Despite concern over a shortage of police officers on the beat and frontline medical staff, an investigation by The Sunday Times has revealed that £1.5m a year is being lavished on unnecessary jobs.
The roles, which have little to do with the delivery of core services, include a £40,000 a year wellbeing unit manager and £22,000 a year events planner employed by Lothian and Borders police. The force also pays £17,000 a year for a chauffeur for David Strang, its chief constable.
NHS Fife has a buddy project worker “to support volunteers who help people stop smoking” (between £20,000 and £26,000 a year), a graphic designer (£25,000-£33,000) and a librarian, to help ensure “professional staff keep up to date” (£20,000-£26,000). In the past, the health board has also employed an artist-in-residence.
Most health boards employ chaplains or “spiritual care providers” on salaries of about £30,000 a year. NHS Dumfries and Galloway also has an organist. The National Secular Society has called for an end to NHS funding for chaplains, and says the cost should be borne by churches.
Matthew Elliott, the chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said the jobs were evidence of unacceptable public sector profligacy at a time when private firms were shedding jobs or imposing pay cuts.
“We’re in the grip of a recession, and it’s high time those in the public sector started cutting back on these ridiculous non-jobs that would be an extravagance even in good economic times,” he said.
“The public sector must wake up and realise taxpayers want value-for- money, frontline public services, not unnecessary frills that are of no tangible benefit to most ordinary people. Any right-minded person can see this money would be far better spent on more nurses, doctors and bobbies on the beat.”
Margaret Watt of the Scotland Patients Association added: “This is quite obscene when we are short of GPs, consultants, nurses and midwives.
“The health boards seem to have their responsibilities all back to front — these jobs should not be a priority. It is more important that we have the staff to take care of our patients than anything else.
“They should be dealing with the core business at the moment where we have insufficient staff in hospitals across the country.”
NHS Fife said it did not consider any of the jobs “nonessential”.
“The modern NHS requires a range of staff to work together to enable it to develop a service for the 21st century,” said a spokeswoman.