Big pay rises for district health board heads

District health board chief executives got bumper pay rises in the past year,  with doctors and nurses left behind, figures show.

A State Services Commission report released before Christmas shows all but one chief received a bigger pay packet, with increases between $10,000 and $180,000.

In a second report, figures show that in the same period public health service staff got an average boost of 0.7 per cent, well below inflation.

That is also less than the average pay increase of 1.8 per cent across the general private sector work force.

The biggest winner was Auckland DHB chief executive Ailsa Claire with a rise that put her in the salary band of $570,000 to $579,999.

That was up 45.6 per cent on the previous financial year, which was set at $390,000 to $399,999, although the commission notes that was just for 10 months. 

Southern DHB chief executive Carole Heatly moved from the $390,000 to $399,999 bracket to between $500,000 and $509,999 -  an increase of $110,000, or 27.8 per cent. 

Hawke's Bay DHB chief executive Kevin Snee got a 16 per cent pay boost, from $430,000 to $439,999 in 2012-13 to a band of $500,000 to $509,999.

Only Waikato's Nigel Murray, who was appointed last July, missed out on a big rise. His salary stayed in the $490,000 to $499,999 band. 

Other chiefs got increases of between $10,000 and $30,000, up between 2.1 and 5.6 per cent.

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Association of Salaried Medical Specialists executive director Ian Powell said the movements in pay bands were a "real eye-opener".

"The size of the pay rises ... beggar belief, given that the people who actually deliver the services have been forced to accept real pay cuts," he said.

Powell recognised the need to attract top-quality candidates in a competitive international field, but he said the same argument should apply to employees further down the pay scale. 

"The DHBs have treated their bids for very modest pay increases with contempt." 

He said that in the past four years, public sector pay went up by just 5.9 per cent, against 8.4 per cent in the wider work force. 

A spokesman for the Ministry of Health said pay rates were set by the DHBs, with a role played by the State Services Commission. 

Labour's health spokeswoman, Annette King, believes the belt is only going to tighten.

A Treasury paper leaked last month showed district health boards will have to cut nearly $200 million from their spending next year.

"The cost of a 1 per cent pay increase across the DHBs is $50 million a year...so [staff] will be looking [at] less in pay increases, in some cases I'd say zero. They would be lucky to get 0.7 per cent.

"To see the bosses get such huge increases while they stand still, that sort of increase doesn't even keep up with inflation."

*This story has been corrected to note that Auckland DHB chief executive Ailsa Claire's pay for 2013-2014 also included a 15 per cent performance bonus not available in the previous financial year.

 - Stuff

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