Cash-strapped NHS forks out £77m in injury claims

Stressed hospital boss lands £370,000 pay day and £24,000 a year for life after he fainted at work as cash-strapped NHS forks out £77million in injury claims

Roger Tarver was awarded a £370,000 lump sum – plus £24,000 a year for life
Taxpayers are shelling out £77million a year on work-related compensation for NHS workers
Ministry of Defence spends just £44million a year on injured servicemen

PUBLISHED: 00:40, 11 August 2013 | UPDATED: 01:04, 11 August 2013

A hospital chief executive has been paid almost half a million pounds in compensation after he fainted in his office and claimed he could no longer work because of stress.

Roger Tarver, 68, was awarded a £370,000 lump sum – plus £24,000 a year for life – after claiming the stress of the job left him psychologically scarred and damaged his heart.

His payout from an official NHS compensation scheme for work-related injuries dwarfs that given to many soldiers who have sustained horrendous battlefield wounds fighting in Afghanistan and Iraq.

The case illustrates just how generously NHS employees are treated after claiming they cannot work, compared to servicemen who receive a medical discharge.

Taxpayers are shelling out £77 million a year on work-related compensation for doctors, nurses, hospital managers and other NHS staff in England, The Mail on Sunday has found.

By comparison the Ministry of Defence’s spend on injured servicemen, through the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme, is just £44million a year.

Campaigners last night said the figures, and Mr Tarver’s case in particular, showed how soldiers’ lives were regarded as ‘cheap’.

Mr Tarver, former chief executive of City Hospital in Birmingham, is being paid under the NHS Injury Benefits Scheme.

Described as ‘the best-kept secret in the NHS’ by health unions, it gives payments of up to 85 per cent of a claimant’s final salary every year for life, if their ability to work has been impaired.

Mr Tarver was medically retired in 1996, aged 51, months after collapsing in his office. He was taken to the cardiac unit with a racing pulse and later diagnosed with acute stress and heart problems.

He retired on his NHS pension but in 2009 won a claim under the injury benefits scheme, for £370,550 to be paid retrospectively, plus £24,000 a year for life.

By comparison, Lance Bombardier Ben Parkinson was initially offered just £152,000 plus a £19,000-a-year pension after he lost both legs in an Afghanistan landmine explosion in 2006.

nurse soldier graphic
His mother Diane Dernie, who fought a successful campaign to more than triple his payout, last night criticised the disparity between the sums given to NHS staff and servicemen.

She said: ‘The figures are pretty indicative of the way that soldiers’ lives are held to be cheap.’

Mr Tarver yesterday defended his payout, but agreed many would think it unfair compared to those awarded to many soldiers.

Speaking from his detached home in Dorridge, West Midlands, he said: ‘I don’t think my payment was generous – I worked bloody hard for the NHS for 30-odd years.

‘The job was impossible. It was daft. I had to make decisions that resulted in patients dying, like who can have the intensive care bed.

‘I was in a position of having to act as God. Would you want that?’

Asked if his payout was unfair compared to those paid to many soldiers, he said: ‘I agree – but I don’t negotiate the conditions of service.’

Government figures show that the Department of Health in England is currently paying out £47 million a year under the NHS Injury Benefits Scheme, to 8,000 former employees who were injured before 1997.

That puts the annual average award at £5,875 – more than twice the average annual payment under the Armed Forces Compensation Scheme of £2,750, once lump sums are factored in.

But the true annual cost of the NHS scheme to the taxpayers is likely to be a quarter higher, at almost £59 million, because when post-1997 claims are included the number of cases still being paid increases by 25 per cent to 10,129.

In addition, every year about 1,800 former health workers receive another £18 million in one-off compensation payments outside the scheme.

That puts the total annual compensation figure for NHS staff in England alone at £77 million.

The NHS Injury Benefits Scheme was replaced in April with a far less generous version called the NHS Injury Allowance Scheme.

The main difference is that payments are limited to a year’s salary per incident. But because the original scheme pays out for life, huge sums will continue to be paid for years to come.

Conservative MP Sir Gerald Howarth said Parliament needed to examine whether the military covenant – the agreement under which the state pledges to look after its servicemen – was being upheld ‘not just in spirit but in action’.

He added: ‘The Government wants to make sure we give priority to our servicemen, particularly to those who are injured and put their lives on the line.

‘With the best will in the world, that’s not what NHS people do.’

A Department of Health spokesman said the injury benefits scheme had been scrapped because it was ‘archaic and expensive’.

An MoD spokesman said: ‘We are committed to making sure that those injured as a result of their service get all the financial and welfare support they need.’

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