- Hospital chiefs are raking in bumper pay deals as freelance consultants
- Some put inflated pay through personal service companies to dodge tax
- Three hospitals did not pay National Insurance for 'interim' executives
- Revelations described by Health Secretary as 'clearly an abuse' of money
Krystyna Ruszkiewicz: Paid £25,000 for two months’ work
NHS chiefs are using a potential tax dodge by channelling salaries of up to £2,000 a day through personal companies.
Hospital bosses are exploiting cash-strapped trusts by raking in bumper pay deals as freelance consultants.
And some are putting that inflated pay through personal service companies – which allows them to avoid paying income tax at source.
Treasury rules state senior staff must always be on the payroll apart from in ‘exceptional temporary circumstances’ lasting no more than six months. But three hospitals admitted they did not take on tax responsibilities – or pay National Insurance – for ‘interim’ executives they had employed.
This means they have paid them vast sums in public funds while having no control over whether they are paying the correct tax rates. The unconventional pay arrangements represent a cosy deal between the NHS Trusts and the wealthy bosses.
While the bosses are able to demand huge taxpayer-funded daily rates, the Trusts are able to fill positions at short notice.
The revelations – which follow a major Mail investigation into NHS pay – provoked a major political reaction last night.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the practices uncovered by the Mail were ‘clearly an abuse’ of NHS money. And he vowed: ‘We will stop this abuse as a priority if we form the next government.’
Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham said a Labour government would ‘claw back’ the extraordinary pay rises revealed by the Mail.
Margaret Hodge, who was chairman of the Commons public accounts committee, said taking payment through personal service companies is ‘a way of avoiding tax’.
Yesterday the Mail told how bosses had taken a £35million pay rise amid the worst NHS crisis in a generation.
After the most comprehensive ever analysis of NHS trust pay packages, the Mail revealed how hospital bosses gave themselves the 6 per cent pay boost last year – while nurses had pay frozen, patients endured spiralling waiting times and NHS trusts announced record financial losses.
Today the Mail reveals the huge sums spent on temporary hospital bosses, who can rake in daily rates of up to £2,300.
There has been a huge increase in recent years in hospitals employing expensive ‘interim’ directors who work as NHS trust bosses on short-term contracts when hospitals are desperate to fill positions.
Last year the number of interim hospital executives who earned £1,000 a day or more almost doubled, to 44 from 24 in the previous year.
Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt said the revelations showed evidence of 'an abuse' of NHS money
The ten NHS interim bosses with the highest salaries were all employed off payroll. Three were in the positions for more than six months.
More worryingly, some were found to have been paid through personal firms, a known tax avoidance tactic.
Peter Reading was paid £405,000 as the interim chief executive of Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust last year. This was all channelled through personal companies.
He claimed a daily rate which works out as £2,109 – even though he worked only four days a week. On top of this, his contract allowed him to claim up to £50 per day in expenses.
Another interim executive, Krystyna Ruszkiewicz, was paid £25,000 for two-and-a-half months’ work at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust. Her fee for the period was channelled through her own company.
There is no suggestion that the executives have not paid any tax due through their service company arrangements.
Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust said Mr Reading was appointed ‘at a time of particular turbulence for the trust’.
Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust said Miss Ruszkiewicz was employed as an ‘exceptional temporary circumstance’.
High rollers who are never paid through the books
They holiday in the West Indies, live in luxury mansions and keep jet-skis as toys.
For while they work at failing hospitals, these interim bosses have made themselves exceptionally wealthy. Here we reveal the lifestyles of some of the bosses who demand bumper pay packages at NHS trusts.
Boss who retired with £700k – to go freelance
Peter Reading: Retired then made £405,000
NHS chief Peter Reading has made millions from failing hospitals and is apparently enjoying the benefits of his £2,100-a-day career.
In 2007, the jet-setting boss took early retirement aged 51, along with a £700,000 pay-off from University Hospitals of Leicester Trust.
Since then he’s enjoyed a lucrative career travelling around the country being paid taxpayers’ money as an interim chief executive for NHS trusts in crisis.
Last year, in his latest position, he earned £405,000 while working only four days a week.
This generous contract, at Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, also allowed him to claim £50 a day in expenses.
So on top of his salary, he took more than £10,000 in expenses – mostly for driving to and from work.
Mr Reading’s wages – which were channelled through his private companies – are equivalent to a staggering 50 per cent pay rise compared to the man he replaced when he commenced the role in February 2012.
Mr Reading was supposedly brought in to sort out the trust’s finances after it recorded a deficit of £45.8million. But last April, two months before he left the role in June, the trust still had an annual deficit of £37.8million and was described by NHS regulator Monitor as ‘not financially sustainable’.
A competitive tendering process to manage services at its two hospitals is due to begin shortly.
Mr Reading, who enjoys regular family holidays to exotic locations such as Antigua, where he can be seen posing on a beach, as well as Thailand and Majorca, has also enjoyed a number of other lucrative interim posts.
He previously spent 18 months as chief executive of Doncaster and Bassetlaw Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, from April 2010 to October 2011.
The privately educated father-of-two was paid £230,000 for his first 12 months in that post, and the trust also paid £40,000 to an agency.
The 58-year-old Cambridge graduate now works as associate director at PricewaterhouseCoopers – a firm which has been accused of helping firms avoid tax.
Rob Hughes, chairman of Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, said there had been ‘no obligation on the trust’ to pay tax on behalf of Mr Reading.
He said Mr Reading was appointed ‘at a time of particular turbulence for the trust’ and hiring him was ‘not our preferred solution’.
‘It was clear that we needed a high calibre individual to successfully steer the trust through some extremely challenging times, and Dr Reading did that,’ he said.
Tellingly, he said Mr Reading’s stand-out achievement was not protecting patients or saving money but dealing with the pressures of outside scrutiny.
‘Most notably, Dr Reading led the trust through the highest level of political scrutiny following a National Audit Office report and an appearance before the Public Accounts Committee in November 2012,’ Mr Hughes said.
He added: ‘While Dr Reading worked an average of four days a week for the trust, the hours he worked were in excess of what would be considered regular working hours. His salary reflected the market rate for such expertise. When his contract ended, the trust was in a much better situation.
‘The payments for Dr Reading’s services did not include any obligation on the trust to make payment for national insurance, pension, holiday pay, nor sick pay and no such payments were made.
‘Dr Reading made both employer’s and employee’s National Insurance contributions and paid income tax through PAYE.’
Last night Mr Reading said: ‘I was employed through my company but I was paying on PAYE, which is fully compliant. As a result of that, my company paid employers’ National Insurance and employees’ National Insurance as well as full PAYE income tax. This works out as equivalent to me paying tax at 60 per cent.
‘Everything I have done has been totally legal and completely within the regulations.
‘I’m one of the most experienced chief executives in the NHS and they needed somebody of my experience at the helm of a hospital which was in difficulty.’
£25,000 for two and a half months’ work
Left: Krystyna Ruszkiewicz went on two luxury holidays
A hospital boss earned £25,000 for two and a half months’ work – and went on two luxury holidays to Spain and California during that time.
Krystyna Ruszkiewicz claimed the payment for filling in as the head of human resources at the Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust as a freelance director in the summer of 2013.
But she did only 24 days’ work during her lucrative stint
And the self-proclaimed ‘yoga obsessive’ – who has done expensive stints at 12 NHS trusts in the past decade – managed to fit in at least two holidays and boasted online about indulging in luxury spa treatments.
Miss Ruszkiewicz, who writes online about how going to spas is ‘another tough day at the office’, started her job in Bath on July 15, 2013.
Just 12 days later she was away in the Costa del Sol, according to her Facebook page. ‘On holiday,’ she wrote from Competa, a picturesque village in southern Spain. ‘Got the most fabulous villa.’ Five days later she posted another update from Competa. ‘In Spain, with lovely friends,’ she wrote.
This was followed by messages on the following two days, with pictures by a real estate poster in Competa and then in Cordoba.
Only 11 days later Miss Ruszkiewicz, 53, updated friends on her indulgent summer travels – from a nail salon in California.
‘Recovering with a mani pedi,’ she boasted after a day in the Redwood national park.
The hospital boss, who has two daughters and lives in a £1.25million four-bedroom house in West London also went to the Indian Springs Resort and Spa in Napa Valley. The luxury hotel, where rooms for a night cost between $359 (£239) and $999 (£665), specialises in mud bath treatments, with a spa powered by volcanic thermal geysers.
‘Lovely,’ she wrote online, ‘Just about to take the plunge. Little apprehensive. Imagine its [sic] a bit squelchy.’
Her posting in Bath – for which she was paid £25,920 – finished on September 26, just over a month later. She says her holidays were not charged to the trust.
During her time in the city the extravagances continued. Miss Ruszkiewicz was staying at The Queensbury Hotel, where rooms cost between £175 and £485 a night and a tasting menu at the restaurant costs £70 a head.
On September 11, 2013, she posted a picture of a ‘very posh’ Eton mess from the hotel restaurant.
After the final day of her posting, she thanked friends for ‘a lovely evening’, adding: ‘Those glasses of wine were very large indeed...’
Miss Ruszkiewicz, whose family is Polish but was born in Hendon, North West London, is paid through her private company SPACE-4 Consulting, even though NHS trusts are supposed to issue off-payroll payments only in ‘exceptional’ situations. Miss Ruszkiewicz owns the company entirely.
Being paid through a personal service company allows people to avoid paying income tax at source in the usual way.
Miss Ruszkiewicz was paid £25,920, including VAT, while at Royal United Hospitals Bath NHS Foundation Trust – the equivalent of £1,080 per day. The trust confirmed she worked for just 24 days during the two and a half months she was their interim human resources boss. This is fewer than half of the 53 working days during this period.
The trust did not take on PAYE responsibilities for her or pay national insurance on her pay. A spokesman added: ‘The appointment was a fixed-term contract for services, made to ensure continuity of service. The contract was spread across a period of over two months.
‘This contract for services was classed as an “exceptional temporary circumstance”, as it was of an urgent nature and necessary in order to provide continuity between the two substantive post-holders.’
Miss Ruszkiewicz said last night: ‘My time was charged at an agreed day rate plus VAT. I took pre-booked holiday during that period. My holiday time was not charged to the trust but was taken on my own time. I did not take any leave from the trust. I claimed no expenses or allowances from the trust.’
She said she stayed with a friend in California.
She added: ‘Where an individual is provided to an organisation through a company, the individual pays income tax on payments to the individual and any monies retained in the company are subject to corporation tax.
‘I am not aware of any suggestion of impropriety made against me by the trust or anyone else.’
Miss Ruszkiewicz continued: ‘I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of. I wasn’t an employee, those were not paid holidays. They were days I wasn’t working in Bath. [SPACE-4 Consulting] pay 20 per cent corporation tax and then I pay full rate on my drawings. I pay loads of bloody tax.’
She said her visit to the Aveda Covent Garden spa in September would have been for a haircut. ‘All I can say is, yes I go to the hairdressers. And, yes, if I go to the hairdressers with a friend and either she or I make a flippant comment about a hard day at the office, what’s that got to do with where I work?’
Texan millionaire on £2,328 a day
An American millionaire flown to the UK and paid £50,000 a month to be temporary boss of Rotherham NHS Trust had a sprawling home in Texas.
Michael Morgan was hired for £475,000 for only nine and a half months’ work as interim CEO. This sum would cover the salaries of at least 20 nurses.
With an annual equivalent pay package of £621,000, he is believed to be the highest paid manager to have worked for the NHS last year.
Michael Morgan was hired for £475,000 for only nine and a half months’ work as interim CEO. This sum would cover the salaries of at least 20 nurses
The home Mr Morgan owned in Texas which he recently sold for nearly $2million (£1,338,000)
Mr Morgan – who recently sold his Texas mansion for nearly $2million (£1,338,000) – began work on February 4, 2013, just before Rotherham recorded a deficit of £6.5million.
He was brought in ‘to address the very serious financial and managerial issues occurring at the trust at that time’.
But while he was in the UK, Rotherham paid £7,000 a month to cover the expenses of Mr Morgan and two colleagues who were paid through a consultancy, coming to a total of £84,000 a year.
Mr Morgan was paid through a third party, Bolt Partners, a ‘healthcare advisory firm’.
And it is clear from his Texan home that he is making the most of his lucrative career travelling across America and the UK as an interim hospital boss – or, as he describes himself online, ‘a seasoned hospital chief executive’.
His huge family mansion has views over picturesque Lake Conroe, with its own jetty, two jet-skis and a boat lift. It also has an infinity pool with a Jacuzzi and fountains.
The five-bedroom home has sprawling manicured gardens. Photographs from inside show an extravagant spiral staircase, marble floors, chandeliers, grand oak furnishings and antiques throughout.
There are sunbathing terraces with palm trees and a games room with a huge television and pool table, under a sign which reads ‘Morgan Street’.
The website advertising the property reads: ‘Step outside and you’ll be captivated by a resort style oasis, one of the very few of its kind.’
A spokesman for Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust said Mr Morgan was employed by Bolt and worked for the NHS as part of a contract the trust took out with Bolt.
‘He was not a paid employee of the trust nor was he paid in a consultancy capacity by the trust,’ the spokesman added.
‘Mr Morgan was employed by Bolt and paid by Bolt. The trust would not have liability for his tax arrangements. The trust is no longer in contact with Mr Morgan.’ Tim Bolt, managing partner of Bolt Partners LLP, said: ‘Rotherham NHS Trust hired Bolt Partners to provide an experienced and highly qualified turnaround team to address the very serious financial and managerial issues occurring at the trust at that time. Bolt’s team consisted of five senior Bolt employees, one of whom, Michael Morgan, was appointed interim CEO. All relevant taxes were paid.
‘The team from Bolt Partners, led by Michael, increased front-line staff and, during the first financial year, reduced the trust’s deficit by £3.4million – over three times the value of its contract.’
Mentor cost £40,000 for two months
Chris Hurst cost £40,000 for two months’ work at an NHS trust which declared losses of £16.4million
Guitar and travel fanatic Chris Hurst was in banking before he became a freelance hospital boss.
Last year he cost £40,000 for two months’ work at an NHS trust which declared losses of £16.4million.
This was after leaving his job as finance director for the Labour-run NHS in Wales, which is now in crisis.
The interim finance director, 60, lives with his 46-year-old girlfriend in a £1million house in Witney, Oxfordshire.
He describes himself online as an ‘executive mentor’ and freelances between hospitals while not away on travels across the world.
He owns his own firm, Dorian3d, but was paid for his time at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust off payroll through a different third party consultancy, which he does not own.
In 2013/14, when Mr Hurst was at The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust, it declared a deficit of £16.4million, despite delivering a surplus of £461,000 and £122,000 for the two previous years.
This year the trust’s projected deficit is £19.1million.
He writes online: ‘I started my career in banking, qualified as accountant while working in local government. I joined the NHS as a trust finance director in 1992.
‘I have a particular interest in healthcare management and I have been fortunate enough to visit health organisations in the USA, Australia, South Africa, Libya and Sweden.’
Pictures he posts online of his travels include shots of him stroking a cheetah in South Africa. ‘I have a lifelong passion for music, play the guitar (badly) and enjoy photography,’ he adds.
A spokesman for The Princess Alexandra Hospital NHS Trust said: ‘Mr Hurst was paid the market rate at the time for a two-month long, high-level position which needed to be urgently filled and which required an individual with in-depth specialist knowledge and expertise.
‘The immediate need to fill this position met the criteria of “exceptional temporary circumstances”.’
Finance expert whose fees keep going up
PAYING TAX IS A MORAL OBLIGATION - ANALYSIS by James Coney, Money Mail editor
The revelations about the pay of NHS bosses show how they seem to be exploiting the health service’s desperation for experienced staff.
Top staff are able to claim early retirement – and cash in the lucrative pension pots they have built up – and then return to the NHS providing short-term help to struggling trusts.
They can move round the country, earning vast fees despite not even working five days a week.
To further boost the benefits they receive, some set up a personal company through which they have their salary paid. Normally when someone is paid, the income tax and National Insurance they owe is deducted by their employer.
But when someone is paid through their own personal company the business that employs them no longer has responsibility for income tax and National Insurance. This is essentially because they are no longer employing the services of a person, but a company.
The wages the personal company receives are classed as profit. In the case of the highest earners this means the money is taxed as corporation tax at 20 per cent, rather than as income tax at 45 per cent.
They can then use the personal company a bit like a giant piggy bank, and sit on the cash until there is a good time to take it out. This could be in a year when their earnings have dropped and they are in a lower tax bracket.
And when they take the money out of the personal company they can take it as a share dividend, rather than as an income.
On top of this they can avoid National Insurance totally. Though this all seems elaborate and contrived, it is perfectly legal. But paying your tax is not just a legal obligation, it’s a moral one. And the vast majority of taxpayers take pride in paying the right amount, at the right time.
They would never dream of vastly reducing their returns by using a personal company they had set up (and their employers would probably forbid it). The public bodies their tax payments are funding must ensure their employees are paying the correct National Insurance and income tax.
That is why the use of companies to employ executives is so reprehensible. Not only can the NHS not guarantee that its most senior staff are paying a fair amount of tax, but in its failure to condemn the practice it has displayed a flippant disregard for the way it spends our taxes.
He is the finance expert put in charge of sorting out hospitals’ spiralling deficits – all while paying himself one of highest figures within the NHS.
Ian Miller, 49, became finance director at Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust in November 2013 and was paid an astonishing £251,000 for only five months’ work. This equates to around £600,000 a year – the equivalent of a City banker.
It is understood Mr Miller’s monthly pay is one of the highest in the NHS nationally.
The funds were paid to third party, The Maxentius Partnership, his own consultancy business.
Mr Miller, whose fees have risen massively in the past few years as NHS spending has stalled, says he has never avoided paying tax.
In 2013, the year he was brought in to help sort out the trust’s ‘deteriorating financial position’, the trust broke even with efficiency savings of £17.5million.
But when he left in April 2014 the trust reported a £12.4million deficit.
The trust justified the expense by saying Mr Miller’s ‘independent financial expertise was essential’ in helping it achieve £18million in efficiency savings during 2013/14 without any impact on patient care.
Mr Miller lives with his second wife Lucy in Ealing, West London, in an area where the average property price is in excess of £1.7million.
In the 2009/10 financial year he was the highest-paid NHS manager in the England. At the time, he earned £310,000 for nine months’ work for the South East Coast Strategic Health Authority. This is the equivalent of £400,000 a year, which is only two-thirds of what he now demands.
A spokesman for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells NHS Trust said it ‘paid Maxentius £209,300 plus VAT in 2013/14 to provide specialist financial support that was not available within the trust at that time. This included the secondment of Ian Miller to the trust as interim director of finance’.
He added: ‘The company provided independent financial expertise that helped the trust achieve £18million in efficiency savings during 2013/14. This brought the trust’s potential deficit down from £30million to £12.4million for that year.
‘Mr Miller was paid via Maxentius’s payroll, with full tax paid. Mr Miller received no taxable expense payments or other benefits in kind from the trust during this period.’ Mr Miller said: ‘All these fees were paid to me via the Maxentius payroll, ie with the employer’s/employee National Insurance contribution and income tax deducted.’ He added that he paid the ‘top rate of income tax’.
Wine-lover with 13 NHS jobs in 7 years
Sandy Spencer has had an incredible 13 NHS interim director jobs in the past seven years
Sandy Spencer, who has been pictured posing in a fascinator and drinking wine on holiday, appears to live the life of a socialite.
In fact, she has made her wealth by merry-go-rounding as a freelance NHS boss.
Mrs Spencer, 58, has had an incredible 13 NHS interim director jobs in the past seven years.
She started her career in the NHS as a nurse before going on to work as an operations director. She moved between full-time positions in Bristol, Hampshire, West Sussex, Kingston, Essex and Sidcup before going freelance in 2008.
From then, she has travelled the country as a chief operating officer and chief executive for hospitals in need of short-term cover.
She is paid off-payroll and has a personal service company Spencers Associates Limited, which she owns completely. Last night the trusts she worked for would not say if this was the agency they paid for her services.
Since 2012 – when the Treasury told NHS trusts they must not pay off-payroll unless under extreme circumstances and never for more than half a year – Mrs Spencer has worked in each job for a maximum of six months.
Last year she earned £145,000 for five months as the interim chief operating officer of Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust. The trust said that because she was hired through an agency it has no access to her contract and ‘cannot comment’ on the tax rates involved in her employment.
From December to March this year she worked as the interim chief operating officer for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust – where Army medics are being drafted in to help fill nursing gaps. The trust is in special measures amid concerns over cancer waiting times.
The trust last year declared a deficit of £2.3million. It anticipates the losses this year to be £22million. A spokesman would not reveal her salary ahead of publication of its annual report.
Mrs Spencer lives with her two adult children in a £1.2million luxury flat on the Thames in Wandsworth, South-West London.
Online she describes herself as ‘a naturally confident and discrete person, who is highly motivated, innovative and inspiring’.
Mary Foulkes, director of organisational development and human resources at Southend University Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, said: ‘We do not have access to Mrs Spencer’s contractual agreement with the supplier and cannot comment. Monitor requires us to report on assignments that last in excess of six months, which Ms Spencer’s did not. We are always mindful that we are spending public sector money.’
A spokesman added that the trust had followed Treasury rules.
A spokesman for Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust said of Mrs Spencer: ‘We never discuss the pay of individuals. Details of her salary and that of other members of our board of directors will be published when our 2014/15 annual report comes out.
‘The trust requires all appointees to interim board level positions to provide satisfactory assurances on the administration of their tax affairs.’
We'll end this 'tax dodge' say Tories: Jeremy Hunt promises to launch crackdown on abuse of NHS money if party is re-elected
Jeremy Hunt promised an immediate crackdown if the Conservatives were re-elected
Ending the ‘abuse’ of NHS money exposed by the Mail will be a priority if the Conservatives are re-elected, the Health Secretary said last night.
Speaking as the Mail revealed how NHS managers were potentially dodging income tax by channelling huge salaries through personal companies, Jeremy Hunt promised an immediate crackdown if his party is in power after the election.
He said: ‘The Mail’s campaign has exposed that off-payroll contracts are clearly being abused both at a management level and in the hiring of agency staff. So we will stop the abuse as a priority if we form the next government.’
His comments led a storm of reaction from all political parties, as well as health experts and medical professionals. The Mail yesterday revealed how hospital bosses had taken £35million in pay rises during the worst funding crisis in a generation. And today it can be revealed that some could dodge tax by channelling salaries through personal companies.
The practice is being used by temporary executives – some of whom earn more than £2,000 a day – and allows them to avoid paying income tax and national insurance in the normal way.
Dr Sarah Wollaston, former Tory chairman of the health select committee, said: ‘I was asked about the Mail’s investigation today at an open public meeting. People are right to be concerned about the best use of public money.’
Labour health spokesman Andy Burnham has also vowed that a Labour government would investigate the Mail’s evidence. And he said the astonishing pay rises should be ‘clawed back’, adding: ‘It cannot be right at a time when NHS staff have been asked to accept years of [pay] freezes to see this level of excess at the top.’
The extraordinary pay deals have also been condemned by the Royal College of Nursing, which branded them ‘shocking’, while health experts including the Royal College of Physicians and government health adviser Sir Brian Jarman demanded a review.
Former Commons public accounts committee chairman Margaret Hodge, who investigated tax avoidance by public officials three years ago, said NHS trusts should be ‘hauled’ before MPs to be held to account.
‘This is a way of avoiding tax,’ the Labour MP said. ‘The reason the Treasury took action to stop public officials being paid through personal service companies was because my committee uncovered this was going on.
‘I’m cross the Government has not stopped this and a future government has got to sort it out.
‘They should make it a condition that if you are being paid with taxpayer money you have to be properly on the books.’
Roger Goss, of Patient Concern, said the situation was ‘ludicrous’, adding: ‘There is no way of justifying it.’
Dave Prentis, general secretary of Unison, said: ‘It’s sickening to see top NHS bosses using the tax rules for personal gain.’