Council defends six figure salary of health boss

Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex County Council's director of wellbeing, public health and communities, receiv

Dr Mike Gogarty, Essex County Council's director of wellbeing, public health and communities, received total remuneration of �194,020 in 2018-19 Picture: SARAH CHAMBERS - Credit: Archant

The health chief of Essex County Council was the highest-earning local authority public health employee in the UK, according to figures published by pressure group the TaxPayer’s Alliance.

Dr Mike Gogarty, the council's (ECC) director of wellbeing, public health and communities, received total remuneration of £194,020 in 2018-19 in the right-leaning group's report The Nanny State Rich List 2020.

The report lists the pay packages for public health officials in the United Kingdom.

The TaxPayer's Alliance campaigns for lower taxes, greater government transparency and tougher controls on government spending.

Scott Simmonds of the TaxPayers' Alliance said: "Brain surgeons, consultants, nurses and carers deserve their salaries but it's hard to justify such sky-high pay bills for the high priests of the nanny state.

"Typical taxpayers are subject to a deluge of media stories criticising them for their lifestyles, with many sick to the back teeth of being judged and lectured by well-heeled quangocrats.

"Where someone is earning huge amounts at taxpayers' expense they must be accountable to the people who pay the bill and who rely on the services they run."

But David Finch, leader of Essex County Council, defended Dr Gogarty's salary, which he said was £165,337 in 2018/19.

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Mr Finch said the figures published by the Taxpayer's Alliance also included pension contributions and expenses payments, and that Dr Gogarty's salary had remained the same for the last five years despite an increase in responsibilities.

"Dr Gogarty is paid at a rate determined by his former remuneration in the NHS, based on national medical consultant pay scales," he said.

"These reflect his length of service in the NHS prior to the transfer of public health from the NHS to local authorities. He is paid the same as any other doctor with this background."

"Dr Gogarty is one of the most senior public health professionals in the region, working for one of the biggest councils in the country. He provides public health advice and guidance to five NHS CCGs across Essex covering over 1.4 million residents. Essex's Public Health Service is a national leader and innovator in successfully tackling important health issues such as smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity.

"His role has expanded to include vital work improving our population's mental health, tackling social isolation and helping communities become stronger and more self-sufficient."

Also included in the report is Dr Rashmi Shukla, director of Public Health England's (PHE) Midlands and East of England region which is based in Birmingham.

She received total remuneration of £231,500.

Duncan Selbie, chief executive at PHE said: "Our senior colleagues across PHE are largely doctors, scientists and world leading researchers.

"They are on the frontline of protecting and improving the nation's health from infectious diseases, antibiotic resistance and other threats.

"In-line with other clinical professionals their overall package comprises of a number of elements, including salary, pensions and NHS National Clinical Excellence Awards.

"PHE's running costs are about one third of an average teaching hospital and we have saved more than £500m from running costs over the last five years."

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