In response to today’s national newspaper article which makes allegations about our chief executive Professor Tricia Hart’s salary we would like to clarify a number of inaccuracies:
- Tricia has not been awarded a £1.25m pay deal by the trust and she does not have the “biggest hospital pay deal in the country.”
- Tricia did not attend the meeting where the salary for the chief executive post was decided and she had no part in determining the pay for the senior role.
- We did not have “worryingly high death rates.” In 2013 Monitor – the regulator of NHS foundation trusts – did investigate a number of finance and quality issues at South Tees, including a rise in mortality figures following a long and difficult winter. They decided to take no action against us after accepting that our mortality position was not an outlier compared to other North east trusts.
- Tricia did not work “effectively part time” on the NHS review of complaints. She was asked by the government to carry out the national review with MP Ann Clwyd and she did this on top of her day job with the trust. Most of the work was carried out in her own time and the Department of Health recompensed the trust for all costs incurred as a result of the work.
- Tricia did not have an additional £1m added to her pension pot in 2013/2014 and she does not have a total pension of £2.39m.Tricia’s pension entitlement is detailed publicly in our annual report but the way we are required to report pension benefits for executive directors has changed in recent years. In 2012/2013 our annual report detailed the total pension pot for Tricia as £1.304m in cash equivalent transfer value. In our 2013/2014 report this was reported as pension related benefit in a band of £1.037.5 – £1,040m. It would appear the newspaper incorrectly interpreted this as a £1m in year increase in pension and have added the two figures together to come up with the total pension.
- Tricia will not get a “further windfall” next year of a “tax free £330,000 lump sum”. When she retires she will be entitled to take a tax free payment as part of her retirement benefit in the same way as any member of the NHS pension scheme, whether they are a doctor, nurse or manager. She can only take this payment when she retires. The terms of the NHS pension scheme are set nationally for all employees and the trust has no influence over them. They are based on a number of factors, including personal contributions and length of service. Tricia has worked for the NHS for 41 years, including as a nurse, midwife and health visitor.
- At the start of 2014/2015 we predicted a deficit of £29.15m, but under Tricia’s leadership and with the support of staff across the trust, we ended the year with a deficit of £7.1m. This is an impressive performance, achieving 4.7% of efficiencies at a time when many trusts are struggling to achieve the national four per cent target. We are now predicting almost a break-even position for 2015/2016.
- We’ve made no secret of how tough our financial position is and we are not alone in that as over 80% of acute trusts were expected to be in deficit at the end of 2014/2015. However contrary to the newspaper’s insinuation that our transformation work has resulted in mass job losses in frontline staff, we had 19 redundancies in 2012/2013 out of a workforce of 9,000 – seven of which were voluntary, and just five were clinical staff.
- As you know from information we shared with staff and the local media last year, the salary for the chief executive post was determined by the trust’s remuneration committee in 2012 after a national and local benchmarking exercise. A national recruitment company advised us that we needed to increase the salary band to attract the best candidates as there were many chief executive posts vacant across the country at the time, and we had a tough financial situation that needed to be addressed by strong leadership. We decided to increase the salary band from £205,000 – 210,000 to £220,000 – 225,000, but even with this change, the salary was still considerably less than that paid by many similar sized trusts, as well as much smaller NHS organisations locally and nationally. Tricia applied for the post alongside other candidates from both inside and outside the NHS, who responded to the nationwide search for a suitable chief executive. After a rigorous selection process involving our senior clinical leaders and governors Tricia was judged to be the best candidate and was appointed on the agreed salary, frozen for a minimum of four years.
Prior to today’s newspaper story all this information had been made known to the newspaper or was publicly available.
It does our organisation a grave dis-service at a time when all staff across the trust:
- are dealing with increasing demands for care
- protecting the quality of our services, and
- addressing the financial challenges faced by all NHS trusts
Trust chairman – Deborah Jenkins