The Department of Health is under pressure to increase the salary for the first chair of the new health and social care regulator after it was branded 'ridiculously low'. The job was advertised at £60,780 a year for up to three days a week, considerably less than comparable posts.
Dame Denise Platt, part-time chair of the Commission for Social Care Inspection, was paid£84,456 last year. Healthcare Commission chair Sir Ian Kennedy got a full-time salary of£159,059.
Both organisations will be replaced by the Care Quality Commission, which will also take on the function of the Mental Health Act Commission and have a£155m annual budget.
The chair will have "significant board-level experience and the enthusiasm and leadership skills necessary to create and develop this high-profile organisation", said the DH's advert.
Former health minister Lord Warner told HSJ the salary was far too low. "For three days a week it is ridiculous, for two days a week it is still too low," he said. "People don't do these jobs for the money, but the important thing is the status of the post. The DH and ministers need to think again."
The bill that will establish the body is due for its second reading in the House of Lords next week. A briefing paper prepared for the second reading by CSCI said the advert "seems to suggest the position would be set at the same level as the chair of a strategic health authority". The chair "would be a peer of SHAs and not a challenger".
"The job description appears less inspirational than job descriptions for the chairs of hospital trusts who have clear requirements of leadership, a listening culture and ensuring diversity," it added.
Housing Corporation chair Peter Dixon said: "It's not so much a money issue as a recognition issue. If the government is prepared to pay up for some jobs, the implication is it regards them as important. If it's not paying up for this, you have to ask why."
A Healthcare Commission spokeswoman said: "It is not for us to say how much the chair of the Care Quality Commission should be paid. It is clearly important the regulator gets the best person for the job."
The DH has said more money may be available for "an exceptional candidate". A spokesman said: "The salary advertised is the current maximum of the arm's-length body chair scale. However, there could be flexibility in actual salary offered in exceptional circumstances."
For more analysis, see this week's leader.