Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'It's Either Incredibly Selfish, or Economically Illiterate. but Either Way, It's Unacceptable' Unions Blast Lucrative NHS Bonuses That Would Have Paid for 800 Nurses

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

'It's Either Incredibly Selfish, or Economically Illiterate. but Either Way, It's Unacceptable' Unions Blast Lucrative NHS Bonuses That Would Have Paid for 800 Nurses

Article excerpt

Byline: Helen Rae

MILLIONS of pounds of taxpayers' money have been spent on lucrative bonuses for leading North East medics - sparking claims the money could be better used elsewhere.

The Journal has discovered that pounds 24,815,646 has been taken out of the region's NHS budget to provide performance-based top-ups to 1,748 well-paid NHS consultants and GPs. Some doctors have received up to pounds 76,000.

Unions have branded the payments - made over the last four-and-a-half years - as "scandalous".

The criticism comes as nurses have been put on a two-year pay freeze while the North East NHS is forced to make pounds 800m efficiency savings over the next three years.

Glenn Turp, Royal College of Nursing northern region director, said pounds 20m could pay 800 nurses' salaries for a year.

The Clinical Excellence Awards scheme - which has nine levels - recognises and rewards exceptional contribution to the health service. Awards are given for a range of achievements, from research and innovation through to patient care and leadership.

Health trust bosses have defended the bonus payments, claiming those rewarded deserve their top-ups.

But Mr Turp said: "These payments are frankly scandalous. Our nurses are on a two-year pay freeze - the hypocrisy is staggering.

"At the same time that trusts are slashing and burning their way through front line budgets in a desperate attempt to make the numbers add up, we've got managers paying themselves huge bonuses.

It's either incredibly selfish, or economically illiterate. But either way, it's completely unacceptable.

"pounds 20m would have paid 800 nurses' salaries for a year. It would have ensured that high quality patient-focused care would continue to be delivered.

"The Royal College of Nursing has no problem with rewarding exceptional performance but the inequality and unfairness of these payments defies credibility. …

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