NHS workers receive £21 million of golden goodbyes
Hundreds of Scottish NHS workers received “golden goodbyes” worth an average of nearly £44,000 each last year as part of a cull that is expected to see staff numbers fall by nearly 5,500.A report by Audit Scotland, found 475 doctors, nurses, managers and administrators were handed exit packages worth a total of £20.8 million in 2011/12.
This represents a 35 per cent increase on the previous year’s total and meant each person received an average of £43,789 of taxpayers’ money for leaving the NHS.
Although the report did not disclose how many people received six-figure payoffs, around 133 people, 28 per cent of the total, were handed at least £50,000 each.
Health boards told auditors they are on course to reduce staff numbers by 802 in the current financial year having already got rid of 4,651 workers since September 2009.
Audit Scotland concluded that health boards made £319 million of savings last year but are struggling to make a further £272 million of cuts they need to find in 2012/13.
Among the other pressures on their budgets are prescriptions, the total cost of which have risen to £1.5 billion per year, and a backlog of repairs that now exceeds £1 billion.
Jackson Carlaw, Scottish Tory health spokesman, questioned the golden goodbyes, He said: “People will find it hard to understand why millions upon millions have been spent in this way.
“What this shows is that the SNP’s promise of making cuts without front line services being affected is becoming less believable by the day.”
Jackie Baillie, his Labour counterpart, added: “This report is an alarm call to the SNP. The NHS is buckling under the financial pressure and we can’t go on like this.”
Alex Salmond, the First Minister, has a policy of no compulsory redundancies in the public sector. According to the report, NHS Fife handed out more than £5 million of golden goodbyes to 79 staff in the past year, an average of £65,000 each.
Orkney, Lothian, Lanarkshire and Grampian health boards all paid out slightly more than £2 million, with the average sums ranging from £35,000 to £67,000.
NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde, the country’s largest health board, paid out slightly less than £2 million.
Total staff numbers are due to fall from a high of 135,823 in September 2009 to 130,370 by March next year, but auditors warned that the SNP’s no compulsory redundancy policy is making it more difficult for boards to balance the books.
About 20 per cent of their savings plans have been categorised as having a “high risk” of failure, the report found, with this proportion increasing to two-thirds for NHS Lothian.
Audit Scotland said boards have a “short-term focus” on financial planning as they try to make ends meet but they need better planning to continue achieving this in the longer term.
Alex Neil, the SNP Health Minister, said he was committed to protecting NHS spending, despite the report stating this is falling when inflation is taken into account, and the report provides evidence of “robust financial management”.
Tags: Health Professionals, National Health Service, NHS, nhs cash shortages, nhs cutbacks