The beleaguered Kent and Canterbury Hospital’s new interim chief executive will earn a jaw-dropping £294,000 for a year’s work – despite only working a four-day week.
Chris Bown’s astonishing pay packet – more than double the Prime Minister’s salary – has been branded “disgraceful” by a nursing union.
Mr Bown will become the highest paid public servant in Canterbury, earning £120,000 a year more than the outgoing hospital chief Stuart Bain, who retires in March.
Chris Bown will start as the East Kent hospitals trust chief executive in March
The 53-year-old, who will earn £1,400 a day, will be in charge of leading the crisis-hit East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust out of special measures.
He will join from the scandal-hit Stafford Hospital, where he has been working since September in a similar interim role to turn its fortunes around.
He will stay in east Kent until 2016, when a permanent replacement is found.
“It is astonishing and disgraceful that a salary of this nature is offered to a public servant when NHS staff have had to fight so hard to secure a measly one per cent pay increase…” Sarah Dodsworth, RCN
Reacting to news of Mr Bown’s salary – which could pay the wages of 14 nurses – the Royal College of Nursing’s operational manager Sarah Dodsworth said: “It is astonishing and disgraceful that a salary of this nature is offered to a public servant when NHS staff have had to fight so hard to secure a measly one per cent pay increase.
“It seems unfair that he will only be working a four day week, when nurses are working extra hours for free on a daily basis in order to provide safe patient care.”
But Sandra Le Blanc, the trust’s director of human resources, has defended his huge pay packet.
She said: “Chris will be paid £294,000 per annum, a salary which we independently benchmarked with other interim chief executives to enable us to attract suitable candidates.
“The contract we have set up with Chris is accordance with the guidance to Trusts on employing contractors and ensures that regular reviews of performance will take place.”
In September the Care Quality Commission (CQC) gave the trust its worst possible rating after identifying staff shortages, a culture of bullying and grave concerns about patient safety.
Mr Bown comes to the trust with experience of dealing with health trusts in crisis.
Chris Bown will earn more than double the salary of Prime Minister David Cameron. Picture: John Westhrop
In the past year, he has been managing director of the County Hospital, Stafford – formerly Stafford Hospital – where as many as 1,200 excess deaths were reported between January 2005 and March 2009.
Nicholas Wells, chairman of the east Kent trust, welcomed Mr Bown’s year-long appointment.
He said: “I believe Chris will provide the high quality leadership that EKHUFT requires for its next phase of development and I am greatly looking forward to him joining us.
The Kent and Canterbury Hospital sign
“Chris has been appointed for a period of one year.
“This will give our trust the stability of leadership which will be important as we strive to make substantial progress with our CQC action plan, resolve the operational challenges we face and, over the summer, take our strategic plans into public consultation.
“In this way, EKHUFT should be able to make significant progress and hopefully come out of special measures, which will greatly assist the process of recruiting a substantive chief executive, which we will resume in 2016.”
The trust describes Mr Bown as “a long standing chief executive with a wealth of experience in steering NHS organisations through challenging periods of change”.
He led Poole Hospital Foundation Trust and before that West Suffolk Trust for a total of 10 years. Previously, he worked in operations and corporate development at Birmingham Children’s hospital. He started his NHS career at both Guy’s and St Thomas’ Hospitals, London.
Mr Bown will formally start his job on March 23.