179% pay hike for bosses; Directors of health trust given rises.
DIRECTORS at a North East health trust have had their pay packets more than doubled after it was given control of its own affairs.
The North East Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust's seven non-executive directors have seen their wages increase by between 130% to 179%, from pounds 6,096 per annum to a range of pounds 14,000 to pounds 17,000.
Trust chairman Tony Dell's fee has also risen by 133%, from pounds 18,896 per annum to pounds 44,000.
But the announcement comes just months after the NEAS said it wanted to shake up services which unions fear will potentially lead to a reduction in the number of highly-skilled ambulance staff.
In November last year the organisation was awarded foundation status and it said the pay rises reflected the changing role, size and complexity of the trust and the increase in responsibilities of its board members.
However, union leaders have condemned the pay rises as a "betrayal" of staff and branded the increases as "immoral".
Trevor Johnston, lead health officer for Unison in the North East, said: "We are disgusted at these pay increases. We feel very let down and betrayed.
"The timing is very inappropriate. Frontline staff have had no pay increase in years and cutbacks are being made to save money, but these pay rises show there is money available.
"Frontline staff have a huge amount of responsibility and pressure, which is increasing all the time, but you don't see their wages going up."
In 2010/11 the ambulance service spent a total of pounds 61,568 on the wages for its chairman and non-executive directors and this will now more than double to pounds 148,000.
The chairman has a statutory right to work three days per week at the ambulance service and the non-executive directors two-and-a-half days per month.
A public meeting of the trust's Council of Governors - made up of members of the public, staff and appointed governors - took the decision to bring the current level of non-executive director remuneration in line with similar posts in the NHS across the North East.
Other health trusts in the region have doubled their pay rates for their chairman and non-executive directors after achieving foundation status.
As reported in The Journal, the NEAS wants to shake up services so there is a better match between demand and resources.
The ambulance service's controversial changes mean that some areas will lose at least one 999 ambulance and two rapid response cars, but gain extra urgent care ambulances.
The NEAS also wants to abolish the grade of advanced technician - affecting about 140 staff - which unions claim is a money-saving tactic.
A spokesperson for the NEAS said: "In November last year, the NEAS became an NHS foundation trust. This brought with it an increase in responsibility for non-executive directors of the board and a greater demand on their time and expertise.
"To reflect this increase in responsibility, the salaries of non-executive directors was considered at a public meeting of the Council of Governors this week.
"The council, made up of publicly-elected members of the public, NEAS staff and appointed governors, took the decision to bring the current level of non-executive director remuneration in line with similar posts in the NHS across the North East."
WHO'S WHO AND WHAT THEY EARN NAME: Tony Dell TITLE: Chairman and non-executive director PAY: pounds 44,000 EXPERIENCE: Mr Dell has been chairman of the NEAS since 2002. He is retired and has worked at the Government Office for the North East.
NAME: Wendy Lawson TITLE: Non-executive director PAY: pounds 14,000 EXPERIENCE: Ms Lawson was appointed at the NEAS in 2009. She runs her own contact centre consultancy based in Newcastle.
NAME: John Prescott TITLE: Non-executive director and vice chairman PAY: pounds 17,000 EXPERIENCE: Mr Prescott has been a non-executive director since 2006. He is retired and is a qualified chartered accountant. He has been a director of an international shipping company.
NAME: Jeff Fitzpatrick TITLE: Non-executive director PAY: pounds 14,000 EXPERIENCE: Mr Fitzpatrick took up a non-executive post in 2009 and more recently was appointed as a non-executive director. He started his career in human resources and industrial relations and quickly moved on to general management.
NAME: Alison Fellows TITLE: Non-executive director and senior independent director PAY: pounds 17,000 EXPERIENCE: Ms Fellows has been a non-executive director since 2006. She is a qualified solicitor and is the head of programmes and major projects with Newcastle City Council.
NAME: Philip Murray TITLE: Non-executive director PAY: pounds 14,000 EXPERIENCE: Mr Murray joined the NEAS as a non-executive director one year ago. He has a wealth of management and accountancy experience, and has worked for a number of multi-million pound businesses.
NAME: Helen Tucker TITLE: Non-executive director PAY: pounds 14,000 EXPERIENCE: Ms Tucker took up her post in 2007 and was re-appointed in 2010 for a four year period. She brings a wealth of diverse experience to the board having worked within the NHS for 40 years.
NAME: Peter Wood TITLE: Non-executive director PAY: pounds 14,000 EXPERIENCE: Mr Wood was first appointed at the NEAS in 2006. He spent 39 years working for Barclays Bank where he held a number of senior regional positions before his retirement.