Cash-strapped Rotherham trust paying £1,500 a day to interim director

A FINANCIALLY troubled NHS hospital is paying an interim medical director nearly £1,500 a day after paying the previous full-time post-holder £200,000 for a year in which he was absent from work.

Rotherham General Hospital.

Rotherham Hospital, which is subjected to special supervision by regulator Monitor because of concerns over its financial management, also paid more than £160,000 over a six-month period for the services of an interim finance director.

The revelations surrounding executive pay come as the hospital is struggling to balance the books. Board reports have highlighted soaring pay costs running nearly £2m ahead of plan in 2014/15 with blame placed on the rising use of expensive short term and agency staff, often in nursing roles.

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But the reports don’t highlight pay at the top of Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust despite current interim medical director, Donal O’Donoghue, receiving £1,440 a day since December - which equates to a pro rata annual salary of £375,000. An interim finance director - Anna Anderson - was also employed at a cost of £166,619.70 between April 14 and October 31.

The figures, obtained following freedom of information requests, prompted the Department of Health to warn it “would not tolerate a culture of excessive executive pay in the NHS.”

The services of interim human resources director Lynne Waters, since appointed full-time, cost £41,450.40 for just a two-month period to the end of October. A further £94,110 was paid over six months to a management consultant, Phil Church, brought in to help cut costs. The trust has also refused to explain payments to former medical director Professor George Thomson, who was absent for a year before leaving to take up the job of medical director at the North Devon Hospital last November.

Rotherham has confirmed Prof Thomson, whose salary was £200,000, remained on full pay during his absence up to November 2. After he took up his new job on November 3, Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust issued a statement saying Prof Thomson had been off work at Rotherham “due to a significant illness towards the end of 2013 and into 2014.”

The statement didn’t clarify whether Prof Thomson had been off sick and Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust has refused to explain the absence. Records show Prof Thomson continued in his role on the governing body of Erewash Clinical Commissioning Group in Derbyshire during his absence from Rotherham, including attending meetings. Prof Thomson declined to comment.

A Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust spokesman said the rate “is consistent with the current national rates for such an appointment, the appointment having been made via a national procurement framework which ensures consistency with the market rates and best value”.

The trust added: “Similar arguments apply to the two other senior posts that you refer to which are Trust Board appointments and critical to the effective running of the organisation.”

The spokesman said full-time appointments were planned to be made as soon as possible.

A Department of Health spokeswoman said it was right senior managers are “properly rewarded as long as they are accountable for their performance.

“However, we want executive staff to exercise greater pay restraint than staff working on the front line, and won’t tolerate a culture of excessive executive pay in the NHS. NHS organisations should always use taxpayers’ money responsibly.”