The post-bank holiday papers were brimming with information about how much more information on the mechanics of running public services is to become accessible.
NHS chief executive Sir David Nicholson led the way, making the front page of more than one newspaper, after the new government issued figures showing he is the second most highly paid civil servant.
As part of the new coalition government’s drive for transparency, Sir David’s salary and benefits are revealed to be worth up to £260,000 a year, putting him behind only Office of Fair Trading chief executive John Fingleton in the well-paid list.
The Daily Mail says Sir David, like the other highly paid civil servants, is both a “fat cat” and a “pen pusher”. But the paper, which lists him as a former Communist Party member, pays him what is presumably a compliment, by admitting he is “not considered a typical Whitehall mandarin”.
Ministers are vowing to publish the details of less handsomely rewarded government employees. The Guardian reports the name, job title and earnings of every civil servant earning above £58,000 will be released “by next year”.
Pay levels will be followed by a welter of other information from the NHS and other public services.
The Daily Telegraph reports that hospitals will be told to publish the number of MRSA and C difficile cases in every ward. The insistence on this ward-level detail, according to the Telegraph, goes right to the top, with the paper reporting prime minister David Cameron backs the plan.
With the PM’s backing, there is likely to be no stopping the move towards openness, and Cabinet office minister Francis Maude’s widely reported promise might not be welcomed across the NHS. “All departments will open up their data in the weeks ahead,” he said.