• NHS Property Services chiefs paid £180,000 in bonuses in 2017-18
  • Amount is significantly higher than nearly every other national NHS body
  • Company ended the year with £40m deficit

Four executive directors at NHS Property Services were paid around £180,000 in bonuses in 2017-18, which is significantly higher than nearly every other national NHS body, according to HSJ analysis.

The payments, which follow the introduction of a new internal bonus scheme, came in the same year the company recorded a £40.9m deficit – a worsening of £35.4m from 2016-17.

The organisation was established under the Lansley reforms to take on estate from NHS organisations which were being abolished, and is wholly owned and underwritten by the secretary of state for health and social care. 

According to NHS Property Services’ annual accounts for 2017-18, chief executive Elaine Hewitt was paid a bonus in the £75,000-£80,000 band, on top of her £220,000-£225,000 salary.

In addition:

  • Director of asset management John Westwood was paid £40,000-45,000 (salary £160,000-£165,000);
  • Chief financial officer Julian Pearce was paid £35,000-40,000 (salary £170,000-£175,000); and
  • Chief operating officer Martin Steele, who was appointed in July 2017, was paid £30,000-35,000 (salary £130,000-£135,000).

The company paid bonuses worth £105,000 to Ms Hewitt, Mr Pearce, and Mr Westwood in 2016-17. 

HSJ looked at the accounts of the Department of Health and Social Care and its 21 executive agencies, arms length bodies, delivery partners and wholly owned companies.

NHS Professionals, which supplies temporary staff to the NHS, paid seven of its directors £150,000 in total. 

The top two companies’ payments are significantly higher than the rest of the arms length bodies and executive agencies that operate in the NHS landscape. 

The third highest paying company was Health Education England (£60,000). 

Several NHS organisations have scrapped bonus payments. For example, NHS England said in its annual accounts it had elected not to pay bonuses due to the “current economic climate and the need to provide effective system leadership for the NHS”. 

NHS Property Services, which is not bound by NHS pay scales, awards bonuses to executives based on the delivery of “corporate and personal objectives”. 

HSJ asked what its directors’ objectives were in order to unlock their bonuses, but the company declined to answer. 

A spokeswoman for the company said targets triggering the bonus payments include areas such as customer satisfaction, cost efficiencies, technical compliance, disposals, and service delivery. 

In its 2017-18 accounts, the company cited achievements including a new customer support centre, investing £68.5m to upgrade the NHS estate, releasing land for around 970 housing units, and taking over the ownership and management of nine new properties.

However, the company was hit by a £9.9m “taxation charge” and a £12.2m impairment to “our fixed asset portfolio” – contributing to a statutory loss for the year of £40.9m.

The spokeswoman said: “The scheme forms part of the NHS Property Services compensation strategy which is designed to align with similar schemes in operation in the commercial/property sector and market based competition.”

Asked why its bonus payments were much higher than any nearly all the other national NHS entites, the spokeswoman said the directors’ bonuses were “tied to the delivery of challenging efficiency and improvement targets agreed by the DHSC”. 

According to the company’s bonus scheme, payments are weighted based on 60 per cent of the individual’s scorecard, and 40 per cent of the corporate scorecard. Bonuses are approved by the company’s remuneration committee, which comprised chair Ian Ellis, shareholder representative director Ben Masterson, and non-executive directors Martin West and Michael Strong.  

It has operating costs of around £791m and owns 10 per cent of the NHS estate with the portfolio estimated to be worth more than £3bn, but has recorded a loss every year since it was set up in 2013 to manage properties formerly owned by primary care trusts.

The company has been involved in a number of disputes with tenants, mainly GPs but also NHS trusts, over lease payments and service charges. 

Last year, the company moved to new headquarters in Gresham Street, in the City of London.

NHS Professionals paid bonuses - ranging from £5,000 to £35,000 - to its directors of client relations, clinical governance and operations, HR, international healthcare, marketing and communications, finance, and IT. 

A spokeswoman said: “Having a competitive reward offering is one of the ways in which NHS Professionals can recruit and retain the very best people to achieve our ambitious performance targets.” 

Bonus payments in 2017-18 (and 2016-17) by the Department of Health and Social Care and its agencies, arms length bodies, delivery partners and wholly owned subsidiaries.

NHS Property Services: £180,000 (£105,000);

NHS Professionals: £150,000 (N/A)

Health Education England: £60,000 (£65,000);

Community Health Partnerships: £50,000 (£45,000);

Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency: £30,000 (£40,000);

Department of Health and Social Care: £30,000 (£25,000);

Public Health England: £30,000 (£30,000);

NHS Blood and Transplant: £15,000 (£15,000);

NHS Digital: £10,000 (£10,000);

National Institute for Clinical Excellence: £10,000 (£0);

NHS Resolution: £5,000 (£10,000); and

Human Fertilisation and Embryology Authority: £5,000 (£5,000).

The following organisations did not pay any bonuses in 2017-18: NHS Business Services Authority, Genomics England, Professional Standards Authority, Human Tissue Authority, Care Quality Commission, NHS England, Health Research Authority, NHS Counter Fraud Authority, Nursing and Midwifery Council.

Figures were not available for the Health and Care Professions Council. Supply Chain Co-ordination Limited and NHS Shared Business Services were not included in the research as the former has not been operational for a full financial year and the latter is a joint venture with a private company. HSJ is awaiting confirmation from NHS Improvement regarding their bonus scheme.

Payments calculated by using lowest level of band (for example £50,000 was used for the band £50,000-£55,000).

Article updated at 09.40am on 15 January to include £35,000 paid in bonuses to NHS Professionals’ director of international healthcare after the company corrected its information.