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Medway Hospital trust pays £1m for financial services

The trust running Medway Hospital has paid out more than £1 million in a year for financial services.

Medway NHS Foundation Trust has been in special measures since 2013 and the emergency department was recently found by the Care Quality Commission (CQC) to be overstretched and poorly led. Professor Sir Mike Richards, chief inspector of hospitals, said he was “concerned by the risk to patient safety”.

Despite debt problems and continued efforts to improve services, the trust’s latest accounts revealed that £674,575 was paid to the interim director of finance Tim Bolot and his company Bolt Partners across eight months.

Medway Maritime Hospital
Medway Maritime Hospital

Of that the total amount attributable to work by Mr Bolot was £335,917. Mr Bolot remains with the trust under the same terms, according to the hospital, so within the year from June 2014-2015 a total of £1,079,319, including VAT, would have been handed over for his services and those of his team of five people.

The trust is overseen by chartered accountant of 30 years chairwoman Shena Winning, who earns £40,000. Mr Bolot’s predecessor as director of finance, David Meikle, was on £130,000 in 2013-14.

The Department of Health is currently funding an additional £13.4m for restructuring work to A&E and the most recent A&E waiting figures from July show just 86.7% of the 9,040 admissions were seen within four hours – the national target is 95%.

Tim Bolot, the hospital's former interim director of finanace
Tim Bolot, the hospital's former interim director of finanace

Teresa Murray, Medway Labour’s health spokeswoman said: “Large sums of public money are being spent on financial consultants but nothing much has changed, Medway Maritime Hospital still has a large deficit and must try to fund the increases in staff and improvements to facilities that the CQC expect before they can get out of special measures.

“On the face of it the consultants don’t look like good value for money to me.The board also receive large salaries and should be able to offer financial expertise and support in return. Indeed the current chairwoman has described her own finance and accounting background as being helpful to the trust.”

Lesley Dwyer chief executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust
Lesley Dwyer chief executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust

A number of people on the board of directors also took home a generous pay packet during the 2014 financial year.

  • Medical director Dr Phillip Barnes replaced Nigel Beverley in June last year as acting chief executive. Mr Beverley received an £80,000 for part of the year. Dr Barnes was paid £220,000 over 2014/15 for the role.

  • In September 2014 Dr Paul Ryan took over as acting medical director and was paid £210,000.

  • Since the appointment of chief executive Lesley Dwyer earlier this year Dr Barnes has resumed his role as medical director on £215,704 a year.

  • Ms Dwyer is on a yearly salary of £225,000, it was revealed by the hospital this week.

  • Mark Morgan was earning £180,000 before leaving as director of operations in November last year. Subsequently Morag Jackson was appointed as chief operating officer on £100,000, including benefits.

  • Chief nurse Steve Hams also left the trust in November while on £110,000, including benefits. His replacement Steve Beaumont is on the same.

  • As the director of organisational development and communications Raj Bhamber was taking home £125,000 per year, until she left in September.

  • Also revealed were the salaries of chief quality officer Trisha Bain and Roberta Barker, director of workforce, who received £147,500 and £135,000.

Not including the £1million pay out for financial advice, the cost of the executive directors has dropped from £1,613,000 in 2013/14 to £1,573,000 in 2014/15.

MP for Gillingham and Rainham Rehman Chishti said: “Whilst it is important for Medway Hospital to get the expertise it needs to get out of special measures, the trust should act responsibly and show restraint on executive pay. Such high salaries risks damaging our confidence in the health service.

Dr Phil Barnes, acting chief executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust
Dr Phil Barnes, acting chief executive of Medway NHS Foundation Trust

“Resources should be used for front line services, which directly benefit patients and not high salaries for senior executives. I have previously raised this matter with the trust, and I will do so again, to ask them to clarify why such large sums have been paid.”

Sarah Carpenter, of Unite, said: “This is an extravagant use of public money and there needs to be an explanation from the trust to the staff and people in Medway as to how this has come about when the NHS across the country is in a financial straitjacket.”

While a small number of people are taking home fat pay cheques, huge numbers of staff are doing long hours and the main health union Unison says pay has fallen in real terms for five years.

"Resources should be used for front line services, which directly benefit patients and not high salaries for senior executives" - Rehman Chishti MP

A survey in the hospital’s annual report revealed more staff were working overtime at Medway NHS Foundation Trust than elsewhere in the country. Nationally 70% of workers put in a few extra hours, but at Medway it is 77%.

At the same time, fewer people working at the Gillingham hospital feel their role made a real difference to patients, compared to other healthcare staff nationwide.

Fewer staff surveyed by the NHS recommended the trust as a place to work or receive treatment compared the year before, and the numbers are, yet again, down on the national.

Teresa Murray, Medway Labour’s health spokeswoman said: “It seems very unfair that the nurses and support workers haven’t had a decent pay rise for years and junior doctors are suffering too by being expected to work longer hours.

“On the council we hold the management to account but never see anything of these consultants taking huge sums of money behind closed doors, they should also be accountable.

"I’ll be asking the hospital to explain why they need them and am surprised consultants are still so widely used when managers admit that money was wasted on consultants who led the failed merger proposals with Darent Valley.”

Cllr Teresa Murray
Cllr Teresa Murray

The number of complaints is on the up, particularly about delays in appointments and the standard of treatment, which makes up two thirds.

But those solely based on the attitude of staff have gone down. More cases than ever are being referred to the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman.

A trust spokeswoman said: “The Trust has recruited an experienced executive team to lead and support its recovery plan.

"The salaries of our directors are benchmarked against other NHS Trusts which are facing similar challenges and are competitive within the market.

"Timothy Bolot of Bolt Partners is acting as the director of finance for Medway NHS Foundation Trust.

Medway Hospital
Medway Hospital

"The trust has commissioned a range of services from Bolt Partners, including Timothy Bolot.

"As well as fulfilling the role of full-time interim director of finance, Mr Bolot also provided advice and support in respect of corporate structure, workforce reviews, and restructuring projects.

"Mr Bolot undertook the work of the strategy director during a period when the position was vacant.

“Over the reporting period the team from Bolt Partners were instrumental in delivering a significant reduction in the Trust’s deficit as well as developing and assisting in the delivery of the Trust’s improvement plan that we are currently implementing.”

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