London

London's hospitals are bleeding frontline staff, but more senior execs keep getting hired

As nurses, doctors, and other frontline health workers continue to sound the alarm about a staggering shortage of staff, the region's largest hospital has gone on a senior leadership hiring spree, appointing three new presidents and seven other new executives since the start of the year.

Since the beginning of the year, 10 new senior leaders have been appointed

Front-line staff say there is a health care crisis at London Health Sciences Centre and across Canada. (Getty Images)

As nurses, doctors, and other frontline health workers continue to sound the alarm about a staggering shortage of staff, the region's largest hospital has gone on a senior leadership hiring spree, appointing three new presidents and seven other new executives since the start of the year. 

The London Health Sciences Centre, London's largest employer, is undergoing a leadership restructuring and has not answered direct questions about how many new positions have been created or how many new executives — who each make six-figure salaries — have been hired. 

Internal emails show 10 people have been put into new positions since the start of 2022. 

"At this time, because we are continuing to configure the new team, the precise number of new recruitment needed is not settled," a spokesperson wrote to CBC News. "Although we previously communicated that we were working towards configuring a smaller, tighter executive leadership, our organizational structure has continued to evolve with the system with a goal of addressing the needs of patients, families, the community and our teams." 

A recent barrage of emails congratulating senior executives on their new roles has many employees angry and frustrated as they work short-staffed and are unable to provide patients with the care they feel they deserve, said James Gibbons, who heads the union that represents unions at the hospital. 

"What the patients would be far better off with would be a health care worker, not another senior executive," Gibbons said. "They're taking health care dollars and hiring senior executives. It's frustrating." 

On social media, people who say they work at the hospital shared similar sentiments: "We keep receiving emails about new presidents, and other various executives being hired/positions being created. It's so insulting," wrote one employee.

The restructuring includes creating two new president positions, one each for Victoria and University hospitals. 

Jackie Schleifer-Taylor, who was one of the hospital's executive vice presidents, was hired as the new president and CEO in November 2021. 

New execs raise eyebrows

Two of the new executives — Brad Campbell, who will be in charge of overseeing the three hospital presidents and Nash Syed, the new president of Children's Hospital — were previously the president and senior vice president, respectively, of Corpus Sanchez Inc.

It is a consulting company used several times by LHSC, including in 2018 strategic plan for Children's Hospital, and in 2016 to improve the psychiatry department at LHSC.

Other new appointments include Abhi Mukherjee, who has been the deputy CFO of the Ottawa Hospital since January 2021, making almost $174,000 at that job. He is LHSC's new corporate services executive and CFO. 

Tammy Quigley, who left her role at LHSC as the director of quality and performance in January 2020 for a job in Burlington, is back as the LHSC's system innovation and business development executive. In her previous London role she made $138,000. 

Debora Wiseman worked for LHSC for 23 years before leaving in November 2020 to help run hospitals in Huron Perth. She's back as the president of Victoria Hospital. In 2020 she made $130,000 at the London Health Science Centre and in 2021 she made almost $180,000 at the Huron Perth Health Alliance. 

'State of evolution'

The health care system is "in a state of evolution" the hospital spokesperson told CBC News, adding that "our organizational structure of the executive team will be comparable to other research-intensive acute tertiary and quaternary care teaching hospitals like Hamilton Health Sciences Centre." 

The London hospital, which employs about 15,000 people, has been in a state of flux since CEO Paul Woods was fired in January 2021 after information emerged that he had taken five trips to the United States during the pandemic. 

Since Wood's departure, six other executives have also left the hospital.

"We keep adding more and more layers," Gibbons said. "They're taking health care dollars and they're putting it to where they see it as a priority, and that's another senior exec, when patients would really be far better off with having another nurse or health care worker at the bedside." 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Kate Dubinski

Reporter/Editor

Kate Dubinski is a radio and digital reporter with CBC News in London, Ont. You can email her at kate.dubinski@cbc.ca.

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