The chair of a hospital trust that was put in special measures after a major review of high mortality rates said it would have been a “grave mistake and false economy” not to boost its chief executive’s salary by £25,000.
Karen Jackson, who is in charge of Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals Foundation Trust, received the inflation-busting rise from £145,000 to £170,000 in April last year.
That figure makes her comfortably better paid than the Prime Minister, whose salary is £142,500.
Last month health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced the trust, which serves a population of 358,000 people from three main sites in Grimsby, Goole and Scunthorpe, was one of 11 to be placed in special measures following a review into high mortality rates by NHS England medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.
The critical review found: a lack of clinical changes being made to improve care; ambulance staff were caring for patients in some cases at the A&E department at Grimsby Hospital; concerns over staffing levels and skills; and that the trust was breaching national standards on mixed sex wards.
Jacky Crawford, a former nurse and lay member of the trust’s board, told the BBC yesterday that Ms Jackson’s salary increase was unwarranted. She said: “If somebody is doing a decent job, if they’re improving services and people are happy with those services, then I would say it’s justified.
“But I don’t think in this case it’s justified because I don’t think they’re doing their job.”
However, the trust’s chair has now hit back, claiming that Ms Jackson’s pay increase was justified.
Dr James Whittingham said: “The remuneration committee is responsible for agreeing the executive management team’s salary bands and uses a national system to determine its decisions on pay.
“The bands are reviewed every year and a variety of factors are taken into account, such as comparative salaries in the NHS, individual performance and market forces.
“The executive salaries at this trust are either in line with or below those at similar trusts.
“It is important that we pay salaries which are commensurate with the job to attract and retain high calibre people.
“Karen Jackson’s starting salary in 2010 was set below the agreed rate as it was her first chief executive post, and she declined a pay rise after her first year in the role.
“She is now receiving a salary that is roughly in line with the average for trusts of this size and type.
“The remuneration committee always strives to keep a balance between competitive pay and the need for financial restraint in what are challenging times and I fully believe we have achieved that.
“It would be a grave mistake and false economy to pay so far below the market rate that executives leave their posts or are impossible to recruit.”
Members of the remuneration committee whose salaries are being discussed by the committee do not participate in these discussions, the trust said.
The chief executive joined in autumn 2010 on a salary of £145,000, she declined a rise in 2011 and it was increased to £170,000 in April last year in line with similar roles, a trust spokeswoman said.
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