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Revealed: Eye-watering salaries of university, PSNI and NHS top brass in Northern Ireland - Queen's pays 87 employees six-figure sums

By Adrian Rutherford

Published 12/11/2015

Professor Patrick Johnston
Professor Patrick Johnston
Former Deputy Chief Constable Judith Gillespie, who stepped down from the PSNI in March 2014
Professor Paddy Nixon

Almost 100 employees at Queen's University are earning more than £100,000 a year, it can be revealed.

Three receive at least £200,000, an analysis of senior staff pay has shown.

The number of individuals on six-figure salaries stood at 87 in 2014 - a rise of 7.4% on the previous year's total of 81.

Eight staff at Ulster University earn £100,000-plus.

The six-figure packages include not just academics, but some senior administrative staff. The vice-chancellors of both universities each receive around £250,000.

The huge financial packages have drawn criticism from the main academics and lecturers' union. Sally Hunt, general secretary of the University and College Union, said: "The excesses of a handful of people at the top in higher education has been an embarrassment for the sector for years now.

"University vice-chancellors have pleaded poverty to keep staff pay down, but often enjoyed bumper pay and expenses deals themselves.

"Staff are rightly tired of the hypocrisy from those at the top when it comes to pay and pensions and the time has come for all staff in our universities to be treated properly and paid fairly."

The issue of public sector pay has been in the spotlight this week after an investigation by the TaxPayers' Alliance campaign group.

It has surveyed a range of public bodies across the UK.

On Monday, the Belfast Telegraph reported how 15 senior officials at Northern Ireland councils received £100,000-plus in one year.

Top-level salaries at health trusts and police forces have also been disclosed.

Details of UK-wide university pay will be made public today.

Figures obtained by this newspaper show 87 staff at Queen's University received £100,000 or more in 2014. Of those, 21 received £150,000-plus.

Employment and Learning Minister Stephen Farry, who is in charge of universities, is paid £80,902.

Prime Minister David Cameron receives £142,500.

Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann, who chairs the Assembly's employment and learning committee, expressed surprise at the extent of six-figure salaries at Queen's.

"It is necessary to pay good wages for the best people to run our universities, but I am taken aback by the numbers earning those good wages," he said.

The Belfast Telegraph has previously reported on the salaries of the universities' vice-chancellors.

Professor Patrick Johnston, who has held the top post at Queen's since March 2014, receives a £249,000 package.

Professor Paddy Nixon, the vice-chancellor of Ulster University, is paid £250,000.

 

NHS: Consultant takes home £350,000

A consultant in Northern Ireland was paid almost £350,000 last year.

The individual, whose name has not been disclosed, works for the Western Health and Social Care Trust. The consultant's pay was almost £70,000 in excess of the second highest earner in Northern Ireland.

A total of 1,065 employees of health trusts received six-figure salaries during the 12 months to April 2014.

The Western Trust had Northern Ireland's highest earner, with a consultant receiving £343,210.They were among 164 staff who were paid in excess of £100,000.

The Belfast Trust, Northern Ireland's biggest health trust, had the highest number of six-figure earners, with 375 receiving £100,000-plus and 10 earning £200,000 or more. The top earners received £250,000. The South-Eastern health trust has 177 staff earning £100,000 or more, including nine on £200,000-plus.

Meanwhile, 175 employees at the Northern Health Trust receive £100,000 or more, including five earning £200,000-plus. There are a further 174 staff at the Southern Health Trust on six-figure salaries, with eight earning £200,000.

A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care Board said: "Health service salaries are nationally agreed. The salary scale for consultants rises to over £100,000 per annum, therefore, given the size of the consultant workforce, all trusts will have a significant number of such salaries. Only a small number of those earning over £100,000 are in non-clinical posts."

Police: Top female officer got £200k in final year in post

Northern Ireland's most senior female police officer received almost £200,000 in her final year with the PSNI, it has been revealed.

Judith Gillespie, who stepped down in March 2014, had the force's biggest remuneration package.

Her £196,543 total may have included a severance payment linked to her departure.

She was one of 65 PSNI officers who received remuneration in excess of £100,000 in the 12 months to April 2014.

Five other officers received £150,000 or more.

  • Matt Baggott received £194,995;
  • Alistair Finlay received £154,556;
  • George Hamilton received £153,745;
  • Will Kerr received £151,920;
  • Drew Harris received £151,684.

The salaries were revealed after an investigation by the TaxPayers' Alliance pressure group, which found at least 670 police employees across the UK received remuneration of more than £100,000.

TaxPayers' Alliance chief executive Jonathan Isaby said the packages would raise questions.

"The men and women working in these services do tough, dangerous jobs for which the public are grateful," he said.

"But that only makes it even more infuriating when those at the top continue to get taxpayer-funded deals and pay-offs that are completely out of step with reality.

Ms Gillespie had the highest police remuneration package in Northern Ireland. She joined the RUC in 1982 and rose to the rank of Deputy Chief Constable, a role she held from June 2009 until her retirement in March 2014.

According to the PSNI website, the Deputy Chief Constable receives a basic pay of £160,416.

Thus her £196,543 package may have included a severance payment linked to her departure, or other allowances or benefits.

In March 2011, less than two years into her post as Deputy Chief Constable, Ms Gillespie could have retired with a £500,000 severance payout. Instead she opted to stay on for three more years.

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