Worcestershire Health and Care Trust defends spin doctors expense

By Ian Dipple Thursday 03 April 2014 Updated: 04/04 23:15

HEALTH bosses across the county have been blasted for spending more than a quarter of a million pounds on non-essential jobs rather than key frontline staff.

The Taxpayers’ Alliance claims its research shows money is being wasted on diversity officers and PR at a time when services are under threat of being cut due to the pressures on NHS finances.

The pressure group made Freedom of Information requests to every NHS organisation in the UK.

In Worcestershire they uncovered over £292,000 was spent on wages and pension contributions for press, communications and other posts.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust pays its head of communications £43,414 - more than twice that of a newly qualified Band 5 midwife on £21,478. A midwife would have to reach consultant level before they would be able to earn more than the head of communications.

It also employs a communications and engagement officer on £24,312 and a communications assistant on £17,794.

The three CCGs have a single communications team with the manager also paid £43,414, a senior communications officer on £29,759 and a communications officer on £17,794.

Worcestershire Health and Care Trust spends over £90,000 on what are deemed non-essential jobs including a design and multimedia officer and an equality and inclusion practitioner both of which are paid £26,586.

On top of that West Midlands Ambulance Service alone spends more than £213,000 including a regional head of communications paid £60,398, a head of press and communications on £43,414 and £35,536 for a diversity officer.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers expect the health budget to be spent on real doctors, not spin doctors.

“The NHS employs far too many people in jobs that do nothing to deliver frontline patient care.

“It’s time for health chiefs to launch a war on waste and ensure the NHS budget is spent on on patients rather than squandered on bureaucrats.”

In a joint statement the county’s health organisations said they answered more than 3,000 press enquiries every year, carried out communications and engagement with over 11,000 staff, ran national and local health campaigns, provided information to GPs, healthcare professionals, ministers, patients and the public, as well as managed intranet, social media and websites.

“This invaluable support - along with the work of other non-clinical staff - ensures nurses, doctors and other frontline staff can focus on their primary role - to provide safe, quality care for our patients.”

Kim Nurse, director of workforce and organisational development for the ambulance service, said they had recruited 274 staff in frontline clinical roles in the last 12 months with plans for an additional 280, more than the total number of non-operational staff currently working for them.

“Our latest figures indicate less than seven per cent of WMAS staff are employed in non-operational roles such as finance, human resources, public relations, information technology and administration. These roles are essential to the effective running of the service.”

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