Saturday, 13 January 2007

Where's the money gone?

We are told that record amounts of money are being spent on the NHS, but is it being spent on patient care.

I am grateful to the BBC for this report from a cash-strapped NHS Trust in Sussex:

An MP has criticised a £243,000 pay-off to an NHS director who worked for a debt-ridden trust for three weeks.

The settlement was revealed in East Sussex Downs and Weald Primary Care Trust's annual report for 2005-2006.

The payment included a confidentiality clause, but Norman Baker, Liberal Democrat MP for Lewes, said the recipient was a Dr Iheadi Onwukwe.

The NHS trust said the legal settlement was properly agreed by its own board and the Department of Health.

The MP said Dr Onwukwe was put on gardening leave for two-and-a-half years, after working for just three weeks as director of public health at Eastbourne Downs Primary Care Trust (now merged into the new East Sussex Downs and Weald PCT).

He said there had been a dispute with a senior colleague, and the doctor eventually left his post in May 2005.

'Loss of office'

Mr Baker said the payout, at a time when Eastbourne Downs PCT was £4.6m in debt, was a "grotesque waste of money".

"It's unbelievable that someone who was only in a post for three weeks should be paid nearly a quarter of a million pounds to go away," he said.

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