Some hospital porters are paid more than qualified nurses

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A review has been launched into the pay of hospital porters - some of whom earn more than a qualified nurse.

iomtoday has learned that the highest paid porter earned £44,000 before tax, including shift allowances, in 2013/14.

In contrast, the average pay for a qualified nurse was £36,553 including enhancements.

The Department of Health and Social Care subsequently confirmed three porters had earned more than than average gross salary for a qualified nurse.

Chief Minister Allan Bell said that review of salary levels across government was highlighting a ‘number of anomalies’.

Information was supplied to us following a Code of Access to Government Information request.

The review was launched under the Scope of Government exercise when it came to light that costs associated with the terms and conditions of porters in the island’s hospitals are significantly higher than their counterparts in the UK.

A spokeswoman for the Department of Health and Social Care said: ‘I can confirm that there are 27.7 porters employed within Ramsey and District Cottage Hospital and Noble’s Hospital.

‘The basic salary for a porter for 2013/14 is £23,697 plus shift allowance which is a total average of £27,144; with the highest paid porter earning £44,000 gross.

‘The average gross salary for a qualified nurse including enhancements for 2013/14 was £36,553.’

She added: ‘Your request is timely as the portering service has been reviewed under the Scope of Government process and the department will be considering all its options, in consultation with the unions, to ensure it provides an effective, integrated service to patients, whilst providing best value to the taxpayer in the future.’

Health and Social Care Minister Howard Quayle MHK said: ‘I fully support the review which must achieve value for money for the taxpayer.

‘I can assure the public that all savings will be ploughed back into reducing waiting lists and improving services.’

Porters play a vital role in the hospitals, moving frail and often very ill patients between departments and wards, and transporting complex and valuable equipment.

They are paid additional allowances for night shifts and security work.

There are other higher paid nurses but they are in senior and management roles.

Chief Minister Allan Bell said: ‘There is a review going on across government about the terms and conditions of all sections of employees to ensure salary levels are appropriate for the job being undertaken.

‘This process has thrown up a number of anomalies and we will be working with the unions to indentify ways to rectify the situation and ensure taxpayers get value for money for these services.’

The porters’ union responds to the news in this week’s Manx Independent.

Public sector pay is in the spotlight because of the effect of the UK’s redrawing of the VAT agreement on the government’s income.

The Manx government has lost one third of its income and has been cutting jobs and freezing pay for some workers to try to plug the gap.

There have been a number of arguably surprising levels of pay reported for some public sector jobs in the last two years.

Some bus drivers have earned more than £40,000 a year, a bus cleaner earned £52,000 in one year and the average take-home pay for baggage handlers at the airport was £34,500.

A survey earlier this year highlighted a gap between pay in the private and public sectors.

The Treasury’s annual earnings survey earlier this year found that average pay for full-time employees rose by 1.3 per cent, to £620 per week (the equivalent of an annual salary of £32,240), between June 2012 and June 2013.

The average public sector wage was £676, while in the private sector it was £608.

Public sector workers work for 37 hours on average, compared with 39 hours in the private sector.

While a man in the island earns £658.13 on average in a week, in the UK the figure is £676.70. The figures for women are £562.20 in the island and £532.90 for the UK.

Median earnings (the earnings level which half of the full-time workforce exceeds) fell by 1.5 per cent to £504 (£26,208 per year).

This statistic removes the distorting effect of the super-rich and suggests that, since average wages have risen but median ones have fallen, the gap between the rich and poor must be widening.

Overall, the median weekly wage for the Isle of Man is £504.11, while in the UK it was £517.50. For men, the figures are £531.47 (Isle of Man) and £556 (UK) and for women they’re £480 (Isle of Man) and £458.80 (UK), so Manxwomen are better off the UK women, but Manxmen are poorer than UK men.

Male public sector manual workers earned £581, compared with £499 in the private sector.

Their equivalents in non-manual jobs earned £838 (public) and £770 (private).

For women, manual workers earned £552 (public) and £399 (private). For non-manual women the figures were £620 (public) and £582 (private).

In 2009, a Tynwald question revealed that most chief executives of government departments earned £92,097.

The figures were given with permission of the chief executives so not all were published. The Chief Secretary then took home £132,458 a year, while chief financial officer at the Treasury got £114,982.

More recent figures have not been published.

As Chief Minister, Mr Bell is entitled to £69,787 a year. However, he has declined at least one recent pay rise.

Last month, the Isle of Man Examiner revealed that the boss of the island’s financial watchdog and nine hospital consultants were among the Manx government’s highest earners – all with salaries above £200,000.

Figures for staff remuneration, listed in the latest government annual accounts, shows that one person received between £325,000 and £350,000 as at the end of March this year.

Two received between £250,000 and £274,999, three pocketed between £225,000 and £249,999 and 11 received between £200,000 and £224,999. Those figures included compensation payments and the Examiner believed that the one staff member who received more than £325,000 did so as part of an early retirement package under which employees can be awarded up to 12 months’ pay.

The salary of John Aspden, chief executive of the Financial Supervision Commission, is £264,653.

Mr Aspden is not a civil servant. He receives no pension as part of his employment package and he pointed out that this year’s pay award was financed within the commission’s existing budget.

Following an Access to Government Information request, the Examiner established that all three earning between £225,000 and £249,999 were consultants at the hospital.

The Department of Health and Social Care also confirmed that a further six consultants earn between £200,000 and £224,999.

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