HOSPITAL trust bosses have defended staging a lavish awards evening for members of staff at a time when the trust is aiming to slash budgets.
North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust’s Shining Stars awards, to recognise the efforts and achievements of staff and volunteers, was held at Wynyard.
Campaigners have hit out over the awards, but trust chiefs say the night was paid for by external sponsors and general charitable funds which is money donated by grateful patients or the families of patients, which isn’t earmarked for patient services.
Almost 300 members of staff turned out at the second Shining Stars awards on Friday night.
Staff and volunteers were nominated for awards by their colleagues in a number of categories and winners are chosen by a judging panel made up of senior nurses, doctors, managers and directors from the trust.
Keith Fisher, chairman of the Save our Hospital campaign, said he “couldn’t believe the audacity” of the trust to hold an awards ceremony after a year of cost-cutting.
Mr Fisher, who is also an independent councillor in the Hart ward, told the Mail: “This is a blow to anyone who has felt the wrath of the cut-backs from the trust.”
He added: “I couldn’t believe it when I saw that they had held this event, it’s shocking, absolutely shocking.
“The trust is fitting the picture that everyone has of them.
“I want to know exactly how much this has cost and what the equivalent is in terms of the services this could have provided.”
Clare Curran, director of human resources and education for the trust, said: “Obviously the trust could not justify holding such an event without the generous support of its sponsors.
“However, following the success of the trust’s first awards night last year and the very positive comments from staff nominated and chosen to win awards, we know this event is very much appreciated by staff who do an amazing job in caring for our patients.”