Belfast Telegraph

Six-figure salaries for NHS bosses ‘necessary’

By Lisa Smyth

Health bosses have defended six-figure salaries for high level jobs managing Northern Ireland’s NHS.

The chief executive of the Health & Social Care Board has told the Stormont health committee they have been unable to fill a post despite the fact it offers a salary of £80,000.

John Compton appeared in front of the committee yesterday to address concerns over management costs in the NHS, where he defended salaries for high level jobs.

The chairman of the committee, Jim Wells, questioned whether, in the current financial climate it was necessary to offer salaries topping £100,000 to attract suitable candidates to apply for positions.

Mr Compton replied: “I couldn’t disagree more with you. We have had significant difficulty in the past few years.

“The most recent senior post is director of finance which is being advertised for the second time. These jobs are very demanding and very onerous. I can simply tell you that isn’t what is actually happening on the ground. On the ground, we are struggling.”

Health chiefs have come under increasing pressure to justify their spending as the Executive fights over the details of the draft budget.

At Stormont yesterday a senior delegation, including Mr Compton and Permanent Secretary from the Department of Health Andrew McCormick, claimed they have saved £42m by slashing red tape in the NHS.

And they predict they are on track to make a total of £50m savings by the end of the financial year through the Review of Public Administration — a scheme designed to streamline the health service.

They maintained spending on management represents only three per cent of the overall health budget.

Mr Compton explained: “Our budget for management this year is £149m, which equates to 3% of the overall spend. That means we are spending three pence in every pound on management.

“Given the scale of what we are trying to do, I would say that is entirely reasonable.”

Also in front of the committee was Mary Hinds, director of Nursing and Allied Health Professionals at the Public Health Agency, who defended spending on training courses for healthcare staff.

And while she admitted she will review the money spent on accommodation for staff on training courses, she stressed that education is necessary to ensure the highest level of patient care.

The issue came to light earlier this week when it emerged that a number of NHS staff stayed in a hotel in America at a cost of £200 a night.

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