Trust pays out £3.5m in ‘golden goodbyes’

10-2166-3''Kings Mill Hospital.
10-2166-3''Kings Mill Hospital.

The cash-strapped trust that runs King’s Mill Hospital has paid out a massive £3.5m in exit packages to non-clinical staff in the last three years.

The whopping figure has come to light after Ashfield MP Gloria De Piero submitted a Freedom of Information request to Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.

This has revealed that the trust, which has been plagued by well-publicised financial problems, forked out £3,550,583.18 in settlements to non-clinical staff - likely to include executives and senior managers - between 2010 and 2013.

And the payouts have actually increased year on year, with the trust spending £732,643.49 in 2010/11, £1,402,095.78 in 2011/12 and £1,415,843.91 in 2012/13.

The data also shows that seven members of staff received six-figure settlements during this time, with the largest exit package being the £504,202.63 paid out to just one individual in 2012/13.

It was reported by the Daily Telegraph in November that the former deputy chief executive of Sherwood Forest Hospitals trust, Carolyn White, received £505,000 as a ‘redundancy and notice period payment’ when she left the organisation in March 2013.

The largest exit package paid in 2011/12 was £284,475 and the previous year the largest exit package was £238,654.

Ms De Piero said: “When I first submitted the FOI I have to say I didn’t expect the sums of money involved to be quite so high.

“Given the current financial climate I think it’s safe to say the amount of public cash handed out to former bosses and employees in the form of golden goodbyes isn’t just generous, it’s astronomical.”

Chad reported last year how the 30-year PFI contract that the trust took on to fund the building of the new King’s Mill Hospital has become an ‘exceptional burden’ and which in 2012/13 cost over £40m – almost 16 per cent of the trust’s turnover.

Fran Steele, the chief financial officer, said in June that ‘significant ongoing financial support will be required from Government’ in order to meet the cost of the PFI.

However the figures now revealed show the true extent of the cash spent on paying off staff.

Between 2010 and 2013, seven people received settlements of between £50,001 and £100,000, 58 people were handed pay-offs ranging from £10,001 to £50,000 and 50 other members of staff received below £10,000.

Ms De Piero added: “Although there’s no suggestion of wrong-doing by any of the individuals involved, I’m afraid it will look scandalous to ordinary folk in Ashfield.

“Just think how many nurses, midwives and doctors this money could be used to employ.”

Paul O’Connor, the chief executive at Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said that the trust has been working to drive down its costs while continuing to provide high quality care.

“Since 2011 the Trust has faced significant financial challenges,” he said.

“In order to secure the long-term financial future for our hospitals, and with a 2011 figure of 66 per cent of spend on staff pay, equating to £159m, it was entirely appropriate that the focus of one work stream was on redesigning the workforce.

“A voluntary redundancy scheme was implemented to minimise compulsory redundancies, with the focus on protecting clinical staff wherever possible.

“Implementation of the plan was part of a continuing effort by the trust towards improvement and efficiency in service provision and to ensure a firm basis for sustainable delivery of patient care.

“The figures quoted relate to historical payments made to staff – these are reported in our annual reports and accounts.”