Cash crisis hospital paid top 20 earners �3.5m last year

IPSWICH: Cash-strapped Ipswich Hospital paid out nearly �3.5million last year to the top 20 earners at Ipswich Hospital, it can be revealed today.

The highest-paid hospital workers – almost all of whom were consultants – took home between �157,293 and �231,103 in their pay packets in 2010/11.

The total of the hospital trust’s top 20 salaries has risen nearly �200,000 from the same total in 2008/09, when �210,241 was the top wage.

This news comes as The Evening Star revealed hundreds of hospital workers could lose their jobs as the trust battles to balance its books – and on the same day inspectors came to check on standards of care for patients.

A consultant’s starting salary is �78,000, but a spokeswoman for the Heath Road hospital explained a number of other factors would go into making up the final figure, including clinical excellence awards which have been given to several of the hospital’s doctors as part of the NHS consultant reward scheme.

She said: “These are national clinical excellence awards which are paid at nationally-agreed rates. The second reason is that consultants might have taken on additional responsibility which are over and above their usual workload, and they can often be paid for that.

“And the third element is that the NHS pays consultants and other senior clinical staff to take on additional sessions in order to make sure that patients do not spend any longer than absolutely necessary on a waiting list, and to make sure we meet the national standards for access to treatment.”

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Over the past year, several departments have put on extra clinics in the evenings or at weekends to ensure they can meet national waiting time targets – but these are expected to be cut back as the hospital tries to battle its mounting level of debt.

She added: “Anything we do which has a cost involved will be carefully looked at as part of our plan to reduce our costs so additional activities will be very carefully looked at just like everything else we do.”

Chief executive Andrew Reed’s pay packet does not make the top 20, as he earns a salary within the �140-145,000 pay bracket.

Health campaigner Prue Rush said: “It’s a huge amount of money but they have a tremendous level of responsibility and they have done years of hard training to earn it. It’s not an easy road to get to the top of their tree, and they don’t all get there.

“If you think the average GP is now earning �120,000, I supposed �230,000 for a consultant is understandable.

“Part of the problem with the NHS is that the salaries have gone up so much over the past few years because they want to keep good doctors in the NHS instead of them going into private practice.

“I’m sure in private practice, they could earn considerably more.

“If we want to keep a quality medical team somewhere like Ipswich, we do have to pay a decent wage.”

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n Opinion – page 6