The real irony of health cuts to services, pay freezes to frontline staff and zero hour contracts to floor workers is that they are completely over-shadowed when you compare them to the salary, benefits and pensions of Board members of both the Health Trusts and Health Board.

For example, during April – March 2013/14:

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Total salary bill for the board members of trusts (some of which have failed to meet ministerial targets) was £5,695, 000.

  • The benefits and payments in kind total £18,060
  • Pension benefit in lieu of salary was £848,000
  • Between them there was just under £2,000,000 funded by the government into their pension schemes.

While some board members might suggest they did not get pay increases when you take into account the benefits received, none of them were left out-of-pocket from the previous year. The same cannot be said of thousands of front-line staff who could not get a below-inflation pay raise of 1% – while many more face redundancy with a pension not even close to the top administrators despite years of service.

Pension pots for top administrators are paid via the Cash Equivalent Transfer Fund (CETV). Basically, instead of their salaries bulging any more, they simply get paid in the £1,000’s straight into their pension pots. In the past, salaries of these top administers were questioned but on the face of it a £5,000,000 tab was seen as needed to attract the calibre of person required to do the job.

With health trusts failing on both the provisions they run and the finances involved, the time has come to question why their salary is maintained with continued yearly top-ups to these ‘golden handshake’ pensions.

One former medical director of the Belfast Trust, now CEO of the Northern Health Trust, has a salary of £180,000 a year with a pension fund worth over £1,400,000. On closer inspection he was the Medical Director of the Belfast Trust during the build up to a total collapse of services in A&E, in-patients and outpatient services. Is someone whose decisions are partly responsible for the failures of the Belfast health trust worth a government payment of £33,000 bonus into a pension fund?

Some hard questions need to be asked, the first being as a population are we willing to pay these figures and senior administrators in our health system and secondly will the Health Minister or the Executive comment on these salaries or pensions?

There seems to be an attitude in some top administrators in that once they have made it on to the boards they have ‘made themselves’. Primarily, I deal with the Northern Trust and that quite simply is the prevailing attitude I have experienced.

For several years I attended monthly board room meetings which were open to the public while the board discussed performance and issues. Over the years I had several debates about the board simply giving themselves a pat on the back during these meetings. This then led to standing orders being changed so that the public were no longer allowed to freely ask questions at the end of boardroom meetings – instead having to having to submit questions five days in advance. Quite hard to do as a question could only be about what was discussed at the board meeting that day.

If anything, I know it is possible to change the view of the health boards – as they especially changed one standing order to try and keep me quiet. If only they would do the same to bring more accountability to board members’ respective performance and create a standing order where the heads of failing departments who sit on the board must explain in public why it failed. Is that not what we pay them for? How about some open transparency?

The Office of First Minister and Deputy First Minister

You would perhaps like to think the matter of respective salaries would be investigated by the Executive, but then that would mean investigating themselves – and their own extra gratia payments for being the Executive ministers of failed departments.

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Health & Social Care Trust Annual Accounts 2013/14

The following figures are taken from the annual accounts 2013/14 of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust (see below article for full sourcing and referencing) and as salaries are published in rough brackets – these figures use the lowest bracket figure. The 2011/12 figures were and I have used these to analyse the new accounts. The following figures are fully audited and have been laid before the Assembly and the figures have all been previously published online. Again, see below this post for a full reference list of accounts.

Belfast Health & Social Care Trust Annual Accounts 2013/14

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The following member received a pay rise from 2012/13 to 2013/14:

  • Dr A Stevens pay rise in £5,000 bracket.
  • B Barry pay rise in £5,000 bracket.

Northern Health & Social Care Trust Annual Accounts 2013/14

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The following members received a pay raise from 2012/13 to 2013/14:

  • Martin Sloan: Director of Director of Planning, Performance Management and Support Services. Pay raise in the £5,000 bracket.
  • Oran Donnelly: Director of Mental Health and Disability Services. Pay rise in the £5,000 bracket.
  • Una Cunning: Director of Primary and Community Care for Older People’s. pay rise in the £5,000 bracket
  • Margret O Hagan – Director of Acute Hospital Services (despite crippling waiting lists, rising deaths and one of the worst performing A&E’s in the UK) received a pay rise in the £10,000 bracket.

Southern Health & Social Care Trust Annual Accounts 2013/14

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The following members received a pay raise from 2012/13 to 2013/14,

  • Dr J Simpson – Medical Director pay increase £10,000 bracket, to note after pension benefits total pay was £275,000
  • M McAlinden – CEO pay rise £5,000 bracket
  • S McNally – Director of Finance pay rise £5,000 bracket.
  • Mr P Morgan – Director of Children’s and Young Peoples services pay rise £5,000 bracket.
  • Mr F Rice – Acting Directory Nursing pay rise £5,000 bracket
  • Mr M Crilly – Acting director mental health pay rise £5,000 from normal full year equivalent, not including £62,000 pension credit.
  • P Clarke – Director of Performance, D Burns Interim Director Acute Services, and A McVeigh – Director of Older People each had a pay rise in the £5,000 bracket.

South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust Annual Accounts 2013/14

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The following board members received a pay rise between 2012/13 to 2013/14

  • H McCaughy pay rise in the £5,000 bracket
  • R Coulter pay rise in the £10,000 bracket
  • F Molloy pay rise in the £5,000 bracket
  • C Martyn, BJ Whittle & S McGoran had pay cuts

Western Health & Social Care Trust Annual Accounts 2013/14

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The following board members received a pay rise between 2012/13 to 2013/14:

  • L Mitchell pay rise £5,000 bracket

Hugh McCloy | Follow me on Twitter  

Pic: Used under Creative Commons | by


Save The Mid: 

Belfast HSCT Trust Annual Report and Accounts (PDF): Annual_Report_2013_14 (1)

South Eastern HSCT Annual Report and Accounts (PDF): Annual_Report_2013_2014

Southern HSCT Annual Report and Accounts (PDF): ANNUAL_REPORT_AND_ACCOUNTS_2013-14

Northern HSCT Annual Report and Accounts (PDF): Northern_Trust_Accounts_March_2014_final

Western HSCT Annual Report and Accounts (PDF): WHSCT_AnnualReport2014

OFMDFM Annual Report and Accounts (PDF): ofmdfm-annual-report-accounts-2013-2014