Health boss in £126k pay row

Dr Kate Ardern, executive director of Public Health for the borough of Wigan
Dr Kate Ardern, executive director of Public Health for the borough of Wigan

Council chiefs in Wigan have hit back at criticism from campaigners about the pay packets of senior public health officials.

The borough’s director of public health is named by the Taxpayers Alliance as being one of a handful of bosses in the sector to receive a salary topping £100,000.

Coun Keith Cunliffe

Coun Keith Cunliffe

Kate Ardern, Wigan NHS director of public health, earns £126,433.

The Taxpayers Alliance, which campaigns against wasteful public sector spending, says the sum is excessive.

They have published findings which show there were at least 325 individuals employed in public health who received remuneration of over £100,000 in 2014-15, including 43 of which had total remuneration over £150,000.

Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “The pernicious influence of the public health lobby has spread ever wider in recent years, with health quangocrats pushing for more regulations and higher taxes that hit families and businesses.

Through her work, Wigan is consistently producing some of the most improved health results of any local authority in the country

Coun Keith Cunliffe

“Not only do the patronising diktats and demands of these unaccountable quangos raise household bills, but taxpayers are also paying for the enormous remuneration packages of hundreds of meddling busybodies, many of whom have obscure job titles.

“Instead of constantly capitulating to the High Priests of the Nanny State by introducing more rules and higher taxes, politicians should instead encourage education, physical activity in schools and more personal responsibility.”

However, Coun Keith Cunliffe, portfolio holder for adult social care and health, defended the Wigan health chief’s pay, insisting her pay represents value for money.

He added: “The figure quoted by the Taxpayers Alliance shows that the level of remuneration, which is not just based on salary but includes additional nationally agreed payments, is around the lower end of the average for directors of public health across the country, even though Wigan is one of the largest authorities.

“The director’s role also incorporates responsibility for emergency planning, civil contingencies, and commissioning leisure services for the borough, in addition to leading on health protection and emergency planning across Greater Manchester.

“Through her work, Wigan is consistently producing some of the most improved health results of any local authority in the country.

“Improvements in life expectancy and healthy life expectancy, reduced smoking prevalence, and reductions in alcohol- related hospital admissions are just a few examples of how Wigan is improving health at a faster pace than any other authority in Greater Manchester.”

Wigan was praised earlier this year for its public health by MPs select committee.