HSJ launches inaugural Patient Leaders awards, plus the rest of today’s news and comment

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Managers in Partnership respond to the Daily Mail story about NHS manager pay rises saying that “in reality, most directors have not…seen a pay rise for years…Most boards are simply too frightened to give any pay rises to their directors”.

More than four out of five acute hospitals in England are failing to meet their own targets for nurse staffing, HSJ analysis reveals

The SNP has launched its election manifesto and has pledged £9.5bn extra funding for the NHS

Labour is focusing on the NHS this week and Ed Miliband has accused the Conservatives of “not being straight” on their promised funding of the NHS

NHS managers received an overall pay rise of £35m last year, according to an investgation by the Daily Mail

5.25pm Managers in Partnership chief executive has responded to the Daily Mail story criticising NHS manager pay rises.

Jon Restell said: “The Daily Mail campaign fails to highlight the main problem with NHS boardroom pay – the 20 per cent vacancy rate in important jobs on hospital boards and the widespread use of expensive interim managers to plug gaps. High turnover rates have inflated salaries as trusts bid against each other for a dwindling pool of executives, and interim management fees artificially inflate the average rise.

“In reality, most directors have not changed jobs and have not seen a pay raise for years – the median increase for a chief executive last year was 0 per cent and the use of bonuses is minuscule. Most boards are simply too frightened to give any pay rises to their directors. This is the wrong thing for patient care, because NHS services need greater stability in boardrooms.

“We need to appoint and fairly reward more permanent managers. Interim management has its place in any industry, but patients and clinical staff need top bosses who are overwhelmingly permanent staff. Permanent staff are also much cheaper. The average salary for an NHS manager is around £48,000, and for senior managers around £78,000. The highest paid permanent chief executive in the UK earns £277,000 – yes, this is a lot, but nowhere near the sums cited in today’s article.

“Some of the Mail’s case studies are unfair and ill-informed. One is someone who received a pay rise on promotion. Would the Mail give someone a pay rise if they were promoted from the newsroom to edit the paper? Another seems to count someone’s pension transferred from a previous job as part of their annual pay increase. The public deserves a more intelligent debate than this.”

3.05pm Labour has responded to HSJ’s story from earlier today revealing that four out of five acute hospitals are failing to meet safe staffing targets.

Andy Burnham said: “These figures are yet more proof of the shortage of nurses in the Tory NHS. But David Cameron is drawing up plans to cut 2,000 nursing posts after the election. Hospitals are already at their limits and it will push them over the edge.

“It is now clear that, just like last time, Cameron’s NHS promises have an expiry date of election day stamped on them.

“The NHS simply cannot take five more years of David Cameron.

“Labour has set out a better plan to invest £2.5 billion extra each year - on top of Tory spending plans - paid for by a mansion tax on homes worth £2 million, to fund 20,000 more nurses and 8,000 more GPs.”

1.30pm NHS managers are firmly in the news today, as a result of a Daily Mail investigation into pay rises given last year.

HSJ debunked some myths about NHS managers a few weeks ago, which can be read here in light of the Mail story.

12.50pm More than four out of five acute hospitals in England are failing to meet their own targets for nurse staffing, HSJ analysis reveals.

In the latest monthly safe staffing data published by NHS providers, collated by HSJ, 194 acute hospitals out of 229 for which data was available failed to meet their own targets for the numbers of registered nurse hours filled during the day – a total of 85 per cent.

NHS England told HSJ the data, published this month, related to trust staffing levels for February.

12.08pm The Scottish National Party general election manifesto will commit the party’s MPs to participate in votes on major issues south of the border, including a bill to reverse the 2012 Health and Social Care Act, the Guardian reports.

SNP leader Nicola sturgeon is quoted as saying: “To now hear David Cameron question the legitimacy of MPs that Scotland would democratically elect will infuriate lots of people across Scotland.

“On the NHS, these votes have a knock-on effect to Scotland’s budgets so it’s not just legitimate that we vote, I think it’s absolutely essential.”

11.30am The Scottish National Party are launching their manifesto this morning.

Leader Nicola Sturgeon pledged an extra £9.5bn for the NHS in real terms.

The Guardian reports that Sturgeon says Labour has failed to commit to the money England’s NHS needs. The Tories have committed to this, but not explained where the money could come from, she said.

The SNP will “vote” for an extra £24bn for the NHS in the UK by 2020-21. That would be equivalent to a real-terms increase of £9.5bn. This will meet the amount demanded by Simon Stevens, the NHS England chief executive, she said.

She added that the SNP will oppose any further privatisation of the NHS, and back moves to restore it to a fully public service.

11.00am Labour’s general election campaign is focusing on the NHS this week. The party has launched a new poster and leader Ed Miliband will use a conference address to again accuse the Conservatives of “not being straight” about their manifesto pledge to increase funding in the NHS.

Ed Miliband is due to tell the Scottish Trades Union Congress today: “The Tory plans on the NHS are a double deceit.

“They are not being straight about their extreme plans to double the cuts to public services next year.
“And they are not being straight when they promise to protect the NHS, but cannot say where a penny of additional money will come from.

“This double deceit is a double danger to the NHS. They have extreme spending plans and they can’t tell us where the money is coming from. 

“David Cameron poses a risk to the very fabric and foundation of our NHS.
“That’s why we will fight every day to 7th May to stop a Tory plan that threatens our NHS.
“And it’s why we have a different approach.
“A fully funded plan, with a mansion tax on properties worth over £2million to pay for more nurses and doctors in every part of the United Kingdom.”

10.21am The three main parties have called for an inquiry into a Daily Mail investigation which has found that NHS managers received £35m in pay rises last year.

Jeremy Hunt said: “A future Conservative government would ask the Department of Health to look at the Mail’s investigation in detail. Too often high executive pay has been awarded as a matter of course, not because of exceptional performance”.

Andy Burnham said: “Labour will conduct a thorough investigation into this, as part of our plan to ensure pay fairness from bottom to top in the NHS. We have called for loopholes to be closed to prevent abuses.”

Norman Lamb said: “NHS frontline staff will rightly feel that this situation is unfair. It is right to have an investigation so that these contracts are looked into so that we can make the best use of taxpayers’ money.”

10.15am A midwife has won a 10-year battle to change guidelines on the cutting of umbilical cords, The Telegraph reports.

Amanda Burleigh, a midwife for 26 years, started researching the benefits of delaying the cutting of the cord which connects mother and baby.

She found evidence of health problems linked to immediate cord clamping, which cuts off the blood supply from the placenta within seconds of the child being born.

She has won her battle to get the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence to change its guidelines to allow more time for mother and baby to be attached.

NICE now states that doctors and midwives should not routinely clamp the cord “earlier than one minute from the birth of the baby”.

10.05am The Telegraph reports that NHS executives earned more than £35m in pay rises last year, an investigation by the Daily Mail has discovered.

Some hospital bosses took home more than £1m, while others were accused of exploiting loopholes to maximise their pay packets.

Nearly 50 hospital bosses took home more than £400,000 last year, the figures showed.

7.00am Good morning and welcome to HSJ Live.

For the very first time HSJ is launching Patient Leaders to identify and celebrate 50 foremost patient and citizen leaders who are improving and transforming healthcare.

HSJ, in association with NHS England, is launching the awards - a project to seek out and celebrate 50 patients, service users, or other members of the public who are playing a role in designing and delivering health services. The work will culminate in a celebration of the individuals in July.

You can find out more, including how to make a nomination, here.