The Evening Standard has reported that at least four NHS managers have been given payoffs worth more than £200,000 as a result of the Government’s reorganisation of the National Health Service.
Details of the payments to former staff members were revealed in the annual report for primary care trusts that has recently been published.
The annual reports showed that two NHS managers in Hillingdon received redundancy payments of more than £200,000, and one manager in Kensington and Chelsea and another in Lambeth also received more than £200,000. Other managers in Southwark and Westminster received payouts of between £150,000 and £200,000, whereas many more managers around London received exit packages of between £100,000 and £150,000, with the terms contained within settlement agreements.
Both the nature of the payments and the use of settlement agreements (formerly known as “compromise agreements”) have been criticised in the media over previous weeks and months, with the “gagging clauses” in settlement agreements coming in for particular criticism.
Andy Burnham, the shadow health secretary, commented in a press statement today that “it will be galling for nurses across London who have lost their jobs to see the sickening scale of these pay-outs… the Government must disclose which of London’s NHS managers received these pay-offs – cover-up is not an option.” However, health minister Dr Dan Poulter responded with criticism of the previous Labour administration, stating that it was Labour’s fault that numbers of staff and wages rose so quickly, and that “lax” redundancy rules had bound the Government to excessive payouts. It was also stated by the Government that there were plans to introduce a cap on redundancy payments or claw back payments if they returned to work in the NHS within a year of being made redundant. These further comments came after it was revealed by the Evening Standard that a married couple in northern England had received payouts of over £1 million but had then been re-employed in the NHS just a few months later.
As well as criticism over the value of payments made to professionals in the NHS, acute criticism has also been directed at the “gagging clauses” which are contained within settlement agreements. These clauses – more accurately known as “confidentiality clauses” – have received critical comment because of the fact that it has been argued that they restrain current and former employees from “blowing the whistle” on malpractice in the NHS.
Chris Hadrill, an employment solicitor at specialist employment firm Redmans, commented: “Whether the nature of the redundancy payments that were made are subject to valid criticism very much depends on the strength and value of any potential Employment Tribunal proceedings that may have come about because of the manner of their dismissal.”
Redmans Solicitors are unfair dismissal solicitors and settlement agreement solicitors