Figures undermine David Cameron’s claims that health service bureaucracy is being cut
The number of elite NHS “super-managers” being paid up to £240,000 a year to implement the government’s controversial health service reforms has soared to more than four times the level originally expected by ministers, the Observer can reveal.
The latest official figures – which show a total of 428 “very senior managers” (VSMs) working in the newly constituted NHS bureaucracy – undermine David Cameron’s repeated claims to be slashing management posts and costs at every level in the service.
The figures will also anger more than a million NHS employees at the other end of the pay scale, including nurses and non-medical staff, such as cleaners, who have been warned that their planned 1% increase for 2014 could be cancelled because there is not enough money to fund it.
In 2010, as the coalition embarked on its controversial reforms aimed at opening the service up to more private competition, ministers told the Senior Salaries Review Body (SSRB) that by the time the changes were completed in April this year, there would be fewer than 100 very senior managers working in the top salary bracket of between £70,000 and £240,000 a year. But the Department of Health last night confirmed recent SSRB data which shows the number is now 428, including 211 super-managers at NHS England, the new body which oversees the budget and delivery of day-to-day services. The average pay of these managers is around £123,000 a year.
Pay review body documents also show that in May 2012, at the height of controversy over the changes, pioneered by the former health secretary, Andrew Lansley, there were 770 VSMs in post “during transition from old to new NHS structures”.
The figures do not include the 259 chief executives of NHS trusts whose pay is set by their own organisations’ remuneration committees and in some cases is more than £240,000 a year.
The revelations will pile more pressure on ministers after it emerged that some 2,200 NHS managers have been made redundant with large payoffs, only to be re-employed soon after.