New job for former health chief

SUFFOLK'S former health chief has a new high-powered public service job in Essex after leaving the NHS with a "pension pot" of more than £500,000.David White was chief executive until the authority was abolished a year ago - when his job disappeared.

SUFFOLK'S former health chief has a new high-powered public service job in Essex after leaving the NHS with a "pension pot" of more than £500,000.

David White was chief executive until the authority was abolished a year ago - when his job disappeared.

Because he was unable to find another suitable job within the NHS, he left it with a pension pot of £553,000.

The figure is revealed in the last accounts for Suffolk Health, which was replaced by five Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) last year.

Mr White, who was 50 when his job disappeared, did not find another job within the health service - although jobs as chief executives of PCTs were available.

Instead he chose to return to the world of local government - he had been director of social services in Nottinghamshire before coming to Suffolk in 1994.

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His appointment in Suffolk was not without controversy - he left Nottinghamshire shortly after his department was criticised in a public inquiry following the death of a young girl.

The details of the deal are in the last annual report of the health authority: "As part of the restructuring of the NHS known as 'Shifting the Balance of Power,' Suffolk Health Authority (the Authority) ceased to operate on 1 April 2002 and the post of Health Authority Chief Executive ceased to exist," it says.

"In line with procedural guidance issued by the NHS Executive for terminating the employment of health authority chief executives, the Authority has entered into an agreement with the former chief executive whereby he may take early retirement from the NHS if he is unable to find suitable alternative employment in the NHS by 31 December 2002.

"The Authority has received independent legal advice that, in these circumstances, and under the terms of his contract of employment, the relevant statutory regulations and Whitley Council terms and conditions, the former chief executive is entitled to receive an immediate and enhanced pension.

"In accordance with the procedural guidance referred to above, the early retirement arrangements agreed between the Authority and the former chief executive have been approved by the Authority's remuneration committee, the regional office of the NHS Executive and the Department of Health."

According to the annual report, during the financial year 2001/2 Mr White received a salary of £100,000 and a further £3,000 in benefits as a company car.

Within four months of leaving his job in Suffolk, Mr White was appointed managing director of Thurrock Borough Council in south Essex.

Thurrock is a single-tier local authority running the whole range of council services in an area including Purfleet, Tilbury, and Stanford-le-Hope.

His salary in his new job is believed to be about £100,000 a year - the same as he earned as chief executive of Suffolk Health.

Mr White did not want to comment on the details of his pension arrangements - he said it was a matter for him and his former employer.

However he said that because he had been employed in different branches of public service, an actuarial figure had to be attached to his pension when he moved.

PETER Davies from the Norfolk, Suffolk and Cambridgeshire Strategic Health Authority - the successor body which took over many of Suffolk Health's financial responsibilities - said Mr White's pension had been built up over many years.

"Apart from remembering that any "pension pot" for Mr White will have included his own 7 per cent (salary) contribution paid over 30 years, the arrangement concerning him was part of a national restructuring of the NHS which has saved £100m a year from admin costs," he said.

"The £500,000 or so referred to in the report is the actuarised amount of money which has to be set aside for Mr White's pension fund, which he had been paying into for 30 years.

"What has to be remembered is that there are no special provisions for managers or senior people in the NHS. Through collective bargaining, pension entitlements and any redundancy or severance arrangements are exactly the same for all staff.

"The national restructuring meant that there were 100 health authority chief executives competing for 28 CEO jobs in the new Strategic Health Authorities.

"It was inevitable that some would end up being displaced," Mr Davies said. "I can also confirm that Mr White did not receive any redundancy payment."

He said it was wrong to think of the £553,000 as Mr White's money.

"This is the money that has been put aside to provide him with a pension - but he can't just pick it up and walk away with it.

"If anything were to happen to him, that money would go back to the NHS."

Mr Davies confirmed that Mr White would be entitled to draw a pension now but felt it was unlikely he would do that on top of his earnings from Thurrock because it would attract a very high tax rate.

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