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NAMED, SHAMED AND PROMOTED; High-paid posts for disgraced NHS chiefs.

Byline: BRIAN LIRONI

FIVE shamed NHS executives blamed for financial scandals have been given highly-paid new jobs, the Sunday Mail can reveal.

The news that a string of senior managers have been quietly shuffled into new jobs instead of being sacked has provoked outrage.

And the damning appointments have fuelled fears of a "jobs for the boys" culture within the NHS.

All five executives were named and shamed by auditors investigating financial irregularities in the health service.

They were all moved out of their jobs after the internal audits.

But now they have been given new jobs elsewhere in the NHS despite their shameful track records.

Shadow Scottish health minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "People who are named in auditors reports as financially incompetent should no longer be in positions of responsibility within the NHS.

"The public have a right to expect these people to be held accountable."

A Sunday Mail investigation revealed that the executives apparently rewarded for failure include Geoff Scaiffe, the former chief executive of NHS Scotland.

During his time in the job, the NHS was undermined by staff and equipment shortages and massive financial deficits.

Just last week, he was criticised by the Scottish Parliament account committee over a pounds 10million budget deficit run up by Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust.

Their report said he allowed the debts to be run up, then tried to pass the buck.

Scaiffe resigned last year. He left with a severance package believed to be worth around pounds 500,000.

He has now been appointed chief executive of Birmingham Health Authority on a salary of pounds 100,000 a year.

Also benefiting from a new position despite being linked to lax financial management is Gerry Marr, former director of planning and performance management.

He was severely embarrassed when we revealed details of a secret internal report into junketing by NHS bosses.

The audit revealed that Marr spent almost pounds 1000 of public money on meals and booze at a plush Edinburgh restaurant.

We revealed details of a damning internal audit that uncovered failures in financial management at senior levels.

Marr was ordered to pay back the money by the internal auditor. Just days later he announced his resignation.

He has taken a job as the chief executive of the troubled Tayside University Hospitals NHS Trust. Despite a pounds 98,000 salary, insiders say the job is a step down.

Paul White, the Tayside trust's former chief executive, presided over one of the biggest financial scandals to hit the health service in Scotland. Under his leadership, the trust ran up a budget deficit of more than pounds 10million.

The parliament's audit committee found that trust managers mishandled public funds with him in charge.

They tried to recruit staff knowing they had no funds for salaries, and ignored the huge debts they were building up.

White resigned but is now in place as chief executive of St Bartholomew's Hospital in London, on a salary believed to be in excess of pounds 100,000.

Jonathan Best, who was chief executive of Lomond and Argyll Primary Care Trust, was branded incompetent by the internal audit committee after they found a budget deficit of more than pounds 3million.

The committee found that money earmarked for tackling waiting lists had been used to plug holes in the budget.

And they also found huge financial irregularities over the sale of a disused hospital building in Oban. When external auditors backed up the findings of the internal audit committee in December 1999, Best was moved to Yorkhill Hospital in Glasgow.

He was formally appointed chief executive at Yorkhill two months ago, earning around pounds 100,000.

The fifth executive in a lucrative new position, despite presiding over a financial shambles, is Graeme Oram, financial director of Lomond and Argyll Primary Care Trust during the financial crisis of 1999.

The trust's audit committee found that he had used a number of "sharp accounting" tricks in a bid to balance the books.

He was suspended on full pay while auditors probed the gaps in the trust's finances and Oram's role in the affair.

But he resigned before the committee completed its enquiry.

Oram is now chief executive of Hartlepool Primary Care Trust, earning close to pounds 100,000 a year.
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Publication:Sunday Mail (Glasgow, Scotland)
Date:Jul 15, 2001
Words:709
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