Health chiefs back boss over salary

A&E in the Urgent Care Centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital.  Medical director Dr Mark O'Donnell.
A&E in the Urgent Care Centre at Blackpool Victoria Hospital. Medical director Dr Mark O'Donnell.
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Health chiefs in Blackpool today defended the pay of a director after details of his salary and pension was published.

Prof Mark O’Donnell, a medical director and consultant at Blackpool Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust, was one of several senior NHS executives featured in a story published in national media on Monday.

The information, which came from the Trust’s annual report for 2013/14, is based on payments to Prof O’Donnell made in 2012/13.

It was claimed Prof O’Donnell’s pay packet was £835,000 – a salary of £215,000 for both roles plus £620,000 in pension-related benefits.

But in a news bulletin sent to staff and seen by The Gazette, it was confirmed the £620,000 figure is not a direct payment and just an estimate.

And hospital bosses have told how they have made “significant investment” to recruit and retain the best medical staff.

A Trust spokesman said: “His (Prof O’Donnell) salary of £210,000 to £215,000 is correct for that year as he has two roles as medical director and a consultant physician.

“The Pension-Related Benefits figure of £620,000 attributed to his pay package is purely an accounting figure and not a direct payment.

“In short it is an estimate of the increase in his pension pot comprising the lump sum payable on retirement and the annual pension payment expected to be received by him spread over a 20-year period (estimate of his remaining lifetime) post retirement.”

In the Annual Report and Accounts 2013/14, the Trust confirmed it was committed to hiring the best staff.

It said: “There has been significant investment by the Trust to increase consultant numbers to the establishment and in support of this a recruitment campaign was developed in response to feedback about the potential barriers to attracting individuals to work for the organisation.”

It added: “The (Change Your Landscape) campaign has resulted in a good number of applications in specialties where the Trust has historically struggled to recruit to, and also increased the number of applicants in other specialities providing more choice for the organisation.”

Monday’s story, which appeared in the Daily Mail under the headline “Greed of the NHS fat cats”, suggested bosses across the health service earned £35m in pay rises last year, enjoyed Champagne parties, exotic holidays and shopping trips as hospitals battled to make ends meet.

It also said Prof O’Donnell claimed £10 in phone expenses each month – but this was again today disputed.

The Trust spokesman added: “Prof O’Donnell does not claim a £10 phone expense – it is part of the standard package that he receives for his on-call duties, which applies to all consultant staff.

“We can also confirm he has not claimed other expenses he is entitled to, such as mileage, since taking the role.

“I would like to assure all staff that Prof O’Donnell’s pay and benefits are in line with all national terms and conditions and are overseen by the Trust’s remuneration committee which is led by a highly experienced panel of non-executive directors.

“His pay is in line with that of his predecessor and is comparable with the salary attached to those who hold joint medical director and consultant roles across the country.”