The former chief executive of the Nursing and Midwifery Council was paid almost £80,000 when he stood down, it has emerged.
The regulator’s annual report, published last week, revealed Professor Weir-Hughes had received a total payment of £199,675 during 2011-12, including £77,500 described as “contractual pay in lieu of notice”.
The payment appears to be equivalent to around half of Professor Weir-Hughes’ annual salary.
The NMC announced in January that Dickon Weir-Hughes had resigned with immediate effect, following a period of sick leave.
The regulator told Nursing Times the payment was in line with its contractual obligations to Professor Weir- Hughes.
The NMC is currently in the middle of considering whether to introduce deeply unpopular plans to increase the registration fee to £120, in order to cope with the increasing cost of its fitness to practise functions.
Nursing Times has estimated that Professor Weir-Hughes pay off would cover more than 1,000 registration fees under the current £76 rate.
Since his departure, the role of chief executive has been filled on an interim basis by Jackie Smith but no permanent replacement has yet been appointed.
The previous leadership at the NMC was heavily criticised by the Council for Healthcare Regulatory Excellence in its review of the regulator earlier this year, which noted that the relationship was poor between Professor Weir-Hughes and former chair Tony Hazell.
Unite lead professional officer Dave Munday told Nursing Times the news would be “galling” for registrants who were already unhappy with how the NMC had been managing its own finances.
He added: “To the majority of nurses that’s three year’s pay.”