Health bosses have been called on to pay back bonuses totalling tens of thousands of pounds to the financially-struggling hospital trust covering St Albans.
Kerry Pollard, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for St Albans, said senior staff, who had received lump sums of up to £45,000 in recent years, should repay them.
West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs St Albans City Hospital, said the bonuses had been sanctioned under a previous board.
The St Albans & Harpenden Review reported in November that top staff at the trust had shared a bonus pot of up to £165,000 in the 2012 -13 financial year.
The renewed anger over the bonuses comes after the Royal College of Nursing released a report today saying pay was rising much faster at for NHS managers than frontline staff.
The report said over the last two years top managers had enjoyed pay increases of around six per cent whereas nurses and midwives had seen their salaries increase by around 1.6 per cent over the same period.
West Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust was singled out as one of the hospitals which has paid out high bonuses to managers while frontline staff saw their pay squeezed.
Following the report’s release, Mr Pollard said: “Any bonuses should be repaid.
“Bonuses should be given out to the people who complete the hard health work.
“If the trust is struggling financially it is pretty obvious that there is a problem. It is either not being managed properly or it is under funded by the central government. If this is the case, there should be no question of bonuses.
“I met with Samantha Jones, the new Chief Executive, recently and she reassured me that there wouldn’t be any bonuses at the top and this would be phased out, which is very pleasing.”
While St Albans South councillor Sandy Walkington said the figures were “startling”.
He said: “The scale of bonuses awarded to the former management team at West Herts Hospital Trust seems startlingly high given the evidence of an organisation continuing to face considerable problems. Frontline staff are expected to perform well without bonuses. “The new management team at West Herts must demonstrate a more inclusive approach in the way that senior managers are rewarded."
These comments come as the hospital trust ran up a £13.4million deficit during the latest financial year.
On Monday the trust said: “We can confirm that the bonuses referred to in report were paid in 2012/13 and that all six of the senior managers mentioned are no longer on our trust board.”
Last year The Review reported that trust’s former chief executive, Jan Filochowski, took home the highest bonuses.
The trust’s 2012-13 accounts showed he took home between £40,000 and £45,000 in bonuses on top of his £243,000 annual salary.
Meanwhile St Albans MP Anne Main said figures released by the Department of Health showing longer waiting times and more cancelled operations are a “cause for concern because they show underperformance by the trust”
The trust has had more cancelled appointments than East and North Hertfordshire NHS Trust, while the average 10-week waiting time for elective surgery is higher than the 8.8 week average waiting time for the rest of England.
She said: “Initially I asked the questions after being contacted by constituents who complained bitterly about cancelled appointments and long waiting times, and it would appear this data supports their concerns.
‘These figures add weight to my view that we need another new, state-of-the-art hospital within the trust, perhaps on the Crown Estates off the M1. This would alleviate the pressure the trust is currently facing.
‘What is also concerning, however, is the news that Chief Executives are being paid for failure. We learn today that the former Chief Executive of West Herts Trust was paid a bonus of £45,000 on top of his quarter-of-a-million salary despite clear failings with cancer referrals over the course of three years – some of which affected my constituents.
“This does smack of reward for failure at a time when difficult decisions are being made about the pay of other NHS staff.”
Antony Tiernan, Director of Corporate Affairs and Communications at the trust, said: We apologise to patients who have had their surgery delayed or cancelled, and those who have had to wait longer for an appointment than would be expected.
“We have seen an unprecedented increase in the number of emergency admissions to our hospitals over the past year (more than a 15% increase compared to 2012/13), which has had a significant impact across many of our services, particularly our ability to carry out planned operations.
“We have put in place a significant number of measures to reduce cancellations and waiting times, including opening our operating theatres for longer and increasing the number of outpatient clinics we run.
“We have also opened a new ambulatory care unit (ACU) and emergency surgical assessment unit (ESAU) which are helping to speed up the time it takes patients to be seen and avoiding unnecessary admissions to our hospitals.
“In addition, we are working closely with our colleagues in community health and social care to improve our discharge processes so that patients who are well enough to leave hospital can do so, thus freeing up much needed beds.
“Our Chief Executive will be meeting with Anne next Friday and will be able to update her further then.”