'Never-ending gravy train'

Unite slams £240,000 pay-off for former NHS trust boss who quit telling staff 'life's too short'

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An NHS trust boss has cashed in on nearly a quarter of a million pounds of taxpayer money after her departure, it has been revealed.

Siobhan McArdle, who served as chief executive of South Tees NHS Foundation Trust for four years, was handed a £240,000 pay-out after announcing that she would be quitting in September last year.

She told the 9,000 staff working at the Trust, that ‘life is just too short’, in a letter to staff upon her resignation and cited the pressure of having to make unrealistic efficiency savings as the reason for giving up her post.

Over the course of 2019-2020 alone, she received an astonishing total of £382,000. This included her salary of £120,000 for six months, £22,000 in overtime payments, an additional £180,000 handout in lieu of notice and a further £60,000, according to figures obtained by the Mirror.

McArdle quit her job just weeks after an inspection and subsequent report by the Care Quality Commission which found that the Trust she oversaw had problems specifically with senior executives being out of touch with frontline staff.

The report stated that senior executives “were not visible, contactable or approachable” and that staff morale was “variable and was especially poor within critical care and surgical services”.

McArdle was also found to have claimed £149 from her own Trust for parking fines she had received – in a year when her staff were having to pay nearly £2m for parking at work.

Unite has slammed the latest NHS executive pay-out – an apparent reward for failure – especially in light of the fact that NHS frontline staff have suffered nearly a decade of real-terms pay cuts, even as they’ve risked their lives in the fight against the pandemic.

Commenting on McArdle’s latest pay-out, Unite regional officer Neil Howells said, “The eye-watering  pay-off for former NHS boss Siobhan McArdle will cause a sense of revulsion for those NHS staff, many lowly paid, who have, literally, put their lives on the line combating Covid-19.

“It is not as if South Tees NHS Foundation Trust were flourishing under her leadership as chief executive, as it was under fire from the Care Quality Commission which found senior managers out of touch with problems facing frontline staff,” he added.

“The never-ending gravy train that seems to accompany the departure of some NHS executives is in stark contrast to NHS staff who have seen their pay eroded by 20 per cent in real terms over a decade of Tory austerity, and desperately need a generous and immediate pay rise.

“Ms McArdle should give a part of her mammoth pay-off to appropriate medical charities for those who, to coin her own phrase, ‘life’s just too short’.”

News of McArdle’s pay-off comes as Unite continues to fight for a substantial pay rise for frontline NHS staff.

Earlier this month, Unite called for NHS workers to receive an early pay rise of 15 per cent or £3,000, whichever is greater.

Unite wrote to the government to lodge its pay claim for NHS workers after Unite’s national health committee voted for the pay rise of 15 per cent or £3,000, to be brought forward to an earlier date from next April when the three-year Agenda for Change pay deal comes to an end.

Commenting after Unite lodged its pay claim, Unite national officer for health Colenzo Jarrett-Thorpe said, “Thepublic esteem for NHS workers should be reflected by the government which needs to respond by opening pay discussions, following our claim and those of our sister unions, with no further procrastination or stalling tactics.

“Our members, living in the real world, can’t survive on warm words of praise by ministers and the past weeks of Thursday evening clapping, as the bills flood in,” he added.

“What is needed is an early, well deserved and generous pay rise to repair the damage of the last ‘lost’ decade when pay in real terms was eroded by an estimated 20 per cent for many long-serving staff.”

By Hajera Blagg

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