Wednesday 10 June 2009

Moral Hazard in the NHS

This story begins way back in October. The Christie Hospital NHS Foundation Trust had £7.5m (£1m of NHS money and £6.5m of charitable donations) in an account with an Icelandic owned bank Kaupthing, Singer and Friedlander tempted no doubt by the high interest rates KS&F offered.

The bank went bust and the Christie lost their money. Here's where the story gets interesting, because rather than resign for her chronic mishandling of both public funds and donations, the Christie chief exec, Caroline Shaw (2007/08 salary £140k-£145k plus £11,700 of benefits in kind) decided to campaign for the money to be returned.

So a campaign was launched to get the government to replenish the donated money, led in parliament by Graham Brady (Con, Altrincham and Sale West) and Paul Rowen (Lib Dem, Rochdale). Brady accused Gordon Brown of blocking the extra payment last month and a 100,000 name petition was delivered to Downing Street. Whether or not that did any good by Tuesday the news was out that the Christie would receive the £6.5m back.

While this is a good thing for North West cancer sufferers, I'm not sure it's the right thing for the country. Why shouldn't any charity place it's money in higher risk banks, if they don't go bust they can enjoy the higher interest, if they do, then all they have to do is sob story until the government ponies up their money back. What's worse is there appears to be no accountability or even remorse shown by the Christie's board. After all their press release explains.
"The money had been invested in May and July 2008 following expert financial advice"
Oh, that's alright then. Does anyone know who the experts are so I can avoid them?

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