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Nurses are up in arms over ‘disgraceful’ salary


Rising controversy over the £295k salary of Chris Bown, the newly appointed Interim Chief Executive of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust
Rising controversy over the £295k salary of Chris Bown, the newly appointed Interim Chief Executive of East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust

The Royal College of Nursing has reacted with fury and disbelief to the eye-watering £294,000 salary being handed to new hospitals chief exec Chris Bown. It says the figure – which Mr Bown will earn for a four-day week — is unjust when nurses are receiving a pay rise ofjust 1% while also working extra hours. But bosses at the East Kent Hospitals University NHS Foundation Trust insist Mr Bown, 53, will be working “whatever hours it takes” to drag the troubled trust out of special measures. Their pledge comes after hospital staff staged two four-hour walkouts at the tail-end of last year in a protest over wages. Sarah Dodsworth, operational manager at the Royal College of Nursing, 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 1% pay increase. It seems unfair that he will only be working a four-day week, when nurses are work. mg extra hours for free on a daily basis in order to provide safe patient care.”

Chris Bown
Chris Bown

Mr Bown starts his job on March 23, but the trust has yet to explain why he will work only a four-day week. The pay of £294,000 for a year-long contract is more than £120,000 above that of retiring chief executive Stuart Bain. Trust chairman Nicholas Wells is defending Mr Bown’s salary, explaining:

“Chris Bown will be working on site for the trust for a minimum of four days a week.”


“In reality, in a chief executive role leading 7,500 staff in a £00 million organisation, operating from five hospital sites, Chris will work whatever hours it takes to drive the improvements necessary to take east Kent hospitals out of special measures and restore a strong positive reputation.”

In September, the Care Quality Commission placed the trust into special measures 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. In the past year, he has been managing director of the County Hospital, Stafford – formerly the Stafford Hospital, where as many as 1,200 excess deaths were reported between January 2005 and March 2009. Mr Bown has been brought in on an interim basis because the trust failed to fmd a permanent successor to Mr Bain. He will not be an employee of the trust, working instead as a contractor employed through a company. HR director Sandra Le Blanc said:

“Mr Bown was interviewed by a panel consisting of the chairman, a non-executive director and myself. The appointment was then formally agreed by the trust’s nomination committee, a subcommittee of the trust board of directors. Mr Bown has been engaged through a company, and is not an employee of the trust.”

THE BIG DEBATE: People from around the area offer their views on the £295,000 salary of the Interim Chief Executive

Andy Alaszewski, a former professor of health studies, said:c
“It does seem like a lot of money, but if you’re running SP you are going to be on a few million pounds more. It all depends on the job he does. It’s a fairly rundown hospital and most services have moved to As hford and Margate, so if he can revitalise the services then he is probably worth every penny. He carries a lot of responsibility. If he is going to turn it around then I am perfectly happy with his salary.”

John Dean:b
“I don’t think it’s a good idea. It’s a diabolical amount of money they are wasting up there. He’s not worth the money – there are lots of experienced people out there who would do It for half the money. It’s a shambles and it needs a turnaround.”

Mash Roberts:
“It’s ridiculous because I think you can spend that money on the other people in the hospital – not just one person. ‘it needs some services back. When I used it recently, I had to go all the way to Margate because the hospital can’t provide the service. I wasn’t too pleased with that and the place is becoming more of a shambles year on year.

Steve Dearing:
“If he does the job he is probably worth it. It does seem a lot of money for four days a week, but in that industry you need to do the job. The hospital does need sortlng out – they’ve closed the A&E and you’ve got to now go to other places for that. Only time will tell what job he will do; if he does it, then it’s worth it.”

Liz Dorrington:
“It does seem an excessive amount to pay, but I say give him a chance and see what happens. They need to see whether he can turn it around and improve the services for all the people in the area.”

Boris Savic:a
“I often stru9gle to understand executive pay. He must have to have some pretty impressive performance goals. If you think about it in the grand scheme of things, GPs are on a lot of money and he’s probably worth about three GP salaries when you think of it like that. I would give him the benefit of the doubt on that money – I would give him one year and see.”

Herne Bay Gazette, February 5th 2015

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