HSJ EXCLUSIVE Cash-strapped trust pays record rate for 'difficult appointment'

Published: 07/04/2005, Volume II5, No. 5949 Page 5

The acting chair of cash-strapped Bradford Teaching Hospitals foundation trust is being paid£60,000 for six months' work, HSJ can reveal.

Letters released by independent foundation trust regulator Monitor under the Freedom of Information Act show that Peter Garland is receiving an unprecedented sum for his interim post.

On average, trust chairs can expect to be paid around£20,000 per year for their role as the senior non-executive director for threeand-a-half days' work a week.

However, despite the trust's£11.3m deficit, Mr Garland has smashed even the highest threshold recommended by the NHS Appointments Commission for the chair of a large trust, which is just under£22,000.

Mr Garland, a former NHS director of health and social care for the North, took up his post on 14 December. He was appointed by Monitor after the regulator used its powers to remove former trust chair John Ryan under section 23 of the Health and Social Care (community health and standards) Act 2003 (news, page 6, 16 December 2004).

A letter from Monitor chair Bill Moyes to Mr Garland, dated 20 January, said the acting chair's job at the trust 'will expire on or about 30 June 2005. Given the circumstances of your appointment the time commitment involved is uncertain.' It continues: 'During the initial phases of the appointment it [is] likely that you would have to devote up to four days a week to the business of the trust. Over time I would expect this to diminish, but probably not ever to be less than two to three days per week.' The letter goes on to state that Mr Garland will be paid£60,000 plus VAT for his work.

New rules mean foundation trusts are free to pay non-executive and executive directors as much as they wish and are no longer controlled by the pay bands set by the NHS Appointments Commission. However, Mr Garland's salary was fixed by Monitor.

Mr Moyes said in the letter that he expected Mr Garland to adhere to the same terms and conditions of employment as for trust chairs and non-executive directors until Monitor produces its own statements of best practice.

The letter goes on to thank Mr Garland for taking on 'this difficult appointment'.

Another letter from Monitor to the trust's recently departed chief executive David Jackson, dated 23 December, informs him of Mr Garland's fee and instructs Mr Jackson to make 'the necessary arrangements direct with the interim finance director'.

A senior consultant at the trust told HSJ that neither the staff nor the board of governors at the trust had been consulted over Mr Garland's fee.

'It would have been nice for the foundation trust membership and the governors to have been consulted. It would be nice to see a bit of democracy'.

Neither the trust nor Monitor would comment on Mr Garland's fee.

The trust recently advertised for a permanent chair, once Mr Garland steps down. The new chair will be paid just over£31,000 per year.

Bradford Teaching Hospitals foundation trust hit difficulty last year due to a range of financial management problems, notably a row over invoicing with its local primary care trusts.

However, HSJ understands that despite Monitor's intervention the trust has so far failed to settle its dispute with the PCTs.

The lack of such an agreement has also meant Monitor will not give the go-ahead to the trust receiving a working capital facility, which health minister John Hutton had agreed to give to the trust to cover some of its debt to 31 March 2005.