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Public health leaders hit back at ‘nanny state rich list’ claims

TaxPayers’ Alliance says British taxpayer is stumping up for bloated salaries

Caroline White

Friday, 05 August 2016

Senior public health doctors have hit back at accusations that they are part of a bloated ‘nanny state’ that imposes a slew of regulations and obliges the British taxpayer to stump up for their large salaries.

In response to a report* by the TaxPayers’ Alliance, setting out the salaries of senior professionals working in public health in arm’s length bodies and local government across the UK, Professor John Middleton, President of the Faculty of Public Health, said that the salaries were commensurate with the training and responsibilities required of the posts held.

“We welcome today’s report from the TaxPayers' Alliance, because it gives public health professionals an opportunity to demonstrate the value that they add to improving the quality and length of our lives,” he said.

"Senior public health professionals receive the salaries they do because they train for at least five years, usually passing two sets of difficult exams before qualifying, so that they can serve the public’s health and keep people of all ages safe from harm,” he explained.

"That training includes learning how to make sense of complex evidence to ensure billions of taxpayers’ money is wisely spent, which is even more important at a time of such economic uncertainty, he emphasised.

“It’s a pity this report is simply incorrect in places: some public health leaders are just not paid as much as the report suggests, and some roles mentioned don’t actually exist,” he added.

The report, which claims to provide “the most comprehensive picture of the cost of employing public health top brass that has ever been produced,” says that at least 325 people employed in public health earned more than £100,000 in 2014-15, 43 of whom earned over £150,000.

And at least 105 public health employees in local government earned in excess of £100,000 in 2014-15, 27 of whom earned over £150,000.

Two local authority directors of public health had total remuneration of over £200,000 in Cornwall (£207,302) and Oxfordshire (£202,349), it claims.

Public Health England employed 199 people paid more than £100,000 in 2014-15 and a further 41 part-time staff whose pro rata remuneration exceeded this figure, it says. Seven employees earned more than £150,000, it says.

Public Health Wales had at least five employees earning in excess of £100,000 and two employees earned more than £150,000, it says.

Jonathan Isaby, Chief Executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, accused “health quangocrats” of pushing for more regulations and higher taxes.

“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,” he fumed.

But Professor Middleton insisted: “When put into context, the so-called ‘nanny state’ of public health becomes less of an imposition and more like a sensible intervention that saves money and lives. We would welcome the opportunity to discuss how public health training works with the TaxPayers' Alliance, so they can see for themselves how rigorous it is and the value it offers to the public purse.”

He added: “For every pound spent on public health services, it saves the taxpayer around four pounds by preventing health problems.”

* Fairhead H. The Nanny State Rich List. The TaxPayers' Alliance, 04th August 2016.

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