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HRD calls for transparency around senior management pay in the NHS

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There should be full transparency around how much senior managers in the NHS are paid, HR director at Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, Graham White, has said.

Yesterday a survey by The Daily Telegraph revealed more than 7,800 senior NHS staff were paid over £100,000 a year, with a third of those earning more than prime minister David Cameron's £142,500 salary.

The newspaper suggests the figures indicate NHS managers and consultants have been protected from the Government's £20 billion cost-cutting programme, with the number earning six-figure salaries increasing slightly in the past three years.

The figures also found their total pay rose over the same period, to almost £1 billion last year.

White told HR magazine if senior members of staff in the public sector believe they "earn the salaries they are paid, I am paid £130,000 a year", then they "should not be reticent to declare the amount publicly" and be ready to justify the work they do, which warrants such high levels of pay.

"The public pay us so I believe they have a right to know what we earn," White said. "While the figure of 8,000 is stark, the total NHS workforce is 1.7 million, so we are saying less than 1% earn over £100,000."

White continued: "Many of these roles are managing very large workforces and very large budgets and their pay reflects significant responsibilities and clinical skill.

"However that doesn't excuse the figure, it just changes the question slightly to focus not just on what is earned, but also on what does the NHS get in return from senior staff who are paid these salaries and what are the levels of productivity in terms of the quality and quantity of patient care their organisations deliver."

The research showed the highest-paid executive earned £340,000 - almost 16 times more than ward nurses. Eleven high earners have been paid more than £250,000 each, the survey found.

It also revealed the number of NHS staff paid more than £100,000 has increased in the past year at almost half of the 75 trusts surveyed. In some parts of England, the number of high-earners has risen by more than 50%.

The research found the average wage for ward nurses was £21,388 a year but White said he doesn't believe the "mass majority" of NHS staff do their jobs for money alone.

"They are committed to the work they do and they work within a pay structure that give annual incremental rises," said White.

He added: "For the past three years they have seen their pay framework frozen, so I am pleased Government has now decided to release this and begin to engage with staff on how best to develop an NHS remuneration package that is fit for the future."

Peter Carter, chief executive of the Royal College of Nursing (RCN), said the six-figure salaries sent the "wrong message" to front-line staff struggling to manage with the "deep cuts".

Carter added: "Over-worked staff often feel undervalued, especially if senior NHS staff are not experiencing the same pay restraints."