The Department of Health is currently consulting NHS Foundation Trusts about Will Hutton’s notion of a Fair Pay Code in public services. If you don’t know what that is, well, basically its about trying to deal with those people in the public sector who “earn more than the Prime Minister” in the government cliché.
What the Code seeks to do is to say that the pay of Chief Executives and other senior Directors within NHS organisations should be the subject of transparency and accountability. NHS organisations should either comply with the “Fair Pay Code”, publish their compliance, and if they are unable to do so, explain why they had not done so, and send to the Department of Health supporting evidence of why they could not comply. The Fair Pay Code requires organisations to take account of the relationship between senior pay and that of all employees, and must give a voice to the wider workforce.
Now… that all sounds fair enough. It is, after all, public money we are talking about, and those who are paid out of the public purse should have no problem with explaining why they cannot comply with a fair pay code. Should they?
But hang on a bit… what have we got here? The guidance goes on to say…
This Code is intended to be applied by all organisations delivering public services. The ‘comply or explain’ regime allows the Code to be applied flexibly in different public service organisations, according to their legal status, structure and areas of activity. Organisations that are autonomous of central government should apply this Code as best practice on executive pay, with the support of those institutions that advise on governance issues.
So… does it apply to all organisations delivering public services? Will SERCO, CAPITA, BUPA etc. all be required to comply with the Fair Pay Code for their CEOs and senior Executive Directors? It seems not, because, of course, their institutions that advise on governance issue usually consists of the sort of toothless, meaningless groups of morons who allowed the banking sector to pocket hundreds of millions of pounds whilst leading their organisations into receivership!
As with the wider NHS reforms, the coalition’s intention with this garbage is to skew the market in favour of the private sector. In the same way they want to cherry-pick the juicy, profitable bits of the NHS services, they also want to be able to cherry-pick the best and most able NHS Executives. As ever with these ‘free market’ thinkers, they only really want a free market when it suits them.