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GMB slams pay-outs to ‘failing’ East Sussex managers in face of special measures

GMB members from the East Sussex Healthcare NHS Trust are demanding assurances that managers who resign from the provider will not be rewarded with golden handshakes or pay-outs.

Union members have spoken out against giving such payments to reward “dismal failures” by former and current senior managers, asking for “complete clarity” around NHS money directed at pay-offs.

They are also calling on the trust to confirm or deny “increasingly strong rumours” that it will be placed in special measures from September, as a result of a negative CQC rating in March.

Members of the GMB blamed the ‘inadequate’ rating on the trust’s former CEO, Darren Grayson, who was allegedly responsible for “disastrous rushed changes to services” at the trust after “not listening to his own staff, public opinion or GMB”.

When Grayson, who had been a chief executive in the NHS for 14 years, resigned in July, union members claimed they had been asking for this for over a year because he was “ultimately responsible for the damning CQC report”.

Gary Palmer, GMB organiser, said: “If the NHS trust is to find themselves placed in special measures it would come six months after the CQC gave the trust an inadequate rating as a result of serious failures in quality of care in a number of areas within its hospitals, including safety and management, and could provide a possible indication as to why the chief executive Darren Grayson resigned in July of this year.

“Just how much longer are the people of Eastbourne and Hastings and surrounding areas of East Sussex expected to suffer from Darren Grayson and his team’s mismanagement legacy? Eastbourne and Hastings hospitals have seen badly handled service redesigns and public consultations, nursing and other staffing shortages and NHS money frittered away on unnecessary private management consultancies.”

Staff and union members stated they were “shocked and understandably angry” about the trust’s management putting patients and services at risk “to the point that placing the trust into special measures could be required to finally turn things around”.

At the time of the CQC investigation in March, the decision to put the trust in special measures was deferred until the chief inspector had considered findings in full. In most cases, a rating of inadequate leads to recommendations for special measures.

The union has now gone on to slam the potential decision of granting “substantial” NHS pay-offs to the entire senior management team, namely chairman Stuart Welling, if they choose to follow on Grayson’s footsteps.

“We know it’s a new concept for senior management at the trust, but it’s time to just be open and honest. It will be the staff, patients and the people of East Sussex who are going to have to deal with the long term consequence around this fiasco, and change is required at the top, but GMD are calling for those responsible to be dismissed and not rewarded for their failures with pay-offs,” Palmer added.

In July, following Grayson’s resignation, Palmer said that GMB had raised grievances for the rushed service changes that resulted in a negative CQC rating, one of which involved admin and clerical staff.

These then resulted in protests outside Eastbourne District General Hospital and a march through the Eastbourne town centre accompanied by the public and other groups.

Palmer said at the time: “The trust has stated that this year’s proposed financial savings cannot safely match the level of financial cuts imposed over the last financial year. GMB consider that this is an admission that those previous cuts were too severe and ultimately compromised the service which the GMB believe was one of the factors for the poor CQC reports.

“The CEO did not listen to his own staff, public opinion or GMB. Instead he openly criticised and blamed those, including GMB, for challenging him and his management style.”

After stepping down, Grayson said he had led the organisation through some “significant changes” to improve the quality of patient services.

He added: “I believe the time is now right to hand the baton to the next leader to continue this journey of improvement. We have made a good start for our patients, but there is much work still to do and this needs both a fresh focus and a long-term commitment to continuity that, after 14 years already as a chief executive in the NHS, I can’t give at this stage in my career.”

Commending his colleague, chair of the trust, Stuart Welling, said at the time that Darren has led an “unprecedented level of change” in the organisation, making sure services were safer and more sustainable for the future.

“We all greatly appreciate what Darren has achieved for our patients and wish him every success for the future,” he added.


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