NHS England has approved two in three requests for trusts to bring in temporary ’very senior managers’ and consultants on daily rates of up to £1,600.
Under rules introduced in 2019, trusts must apply for prior approval if they want to bring in someone on a temporary basis to a “very senior manager” or consultant role and pay them more than £750 per day.
Applications are expected to set out “why an agreed rate offers value for money”.
In the six months from April this year, NHSE has approved 12 requests to pay above the threshold, with an average daily rate of nearly £1,000, and the highest being £1,600. There were 18 applications in total, meaning six were rejected.
The numbers this year represent an increase on 2021-22, when there were 11 approvals from 17 applications across the whole year.
There were seven approvals in 2020-21, and 11 in 2019-20, from similar application numbers.
The figures, which were released following a freedom of information request by HSJ, also include individual consultants who are classed as VSMs under NHSE’s internal process.
Trusts must also seek permission from the Department of Health and Social Care if they want to employ permanent managers on more than £150,000 a year.
However, ministers were able to block just four applications out of nearly 300 over the last three years, because they do not have formal powers over VSM pay at foundation trusts and now defunct clinical commissioning groups.
Jon Restell, CEO of Managers in Partnership, said: ”There are times when interim managers are necessary, however it is right that this expenditure is kept within agreed limits unless there are exceptional circumstances.
“We know that leadership stability is linked to better performance at trusts, so identifying and encouraging senior managers to take on these roles on a permanent basis should always be the priority. These roles should be at rates which are both affordable to the NHS while reflecting the heightened responsibilities that very senior managers take on.”
NHSE was approached for comment.