THE former chief executive of the troubled University Hospitals of Morecambe Bay NHS Foundation Trust is still being paid his £150,000 a year salary despite stepping down from his post more than a year ago.
Tony Halsall left the trust, which runs the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, on February 24 last year for a secondment with the NHS Confederation but will continue to be paid the same salary until October and continue to receive benefits including a lease car and the costs of career management advice up to £5,000.
Mr Halsall’s time at the trust was beset by scandal and a police investigation into baby deaths at Furness General Hospital in Barrow is still on-going.
In a statement, new trust chair John Cowdall, who took over on March 1, said: “It has been decided at the end of the secondment with the NHS Confederation that the Trust will pay Mr Halsall for notice, which is due under the terms of the legal agreement concluded with him in February 2012.
“This will end his employment with the Trust.
“Mr Halsall is entitled under his existing agreement to six months’ notice or salary in lieu of notice.
“The compromise agreement that he and the Trust signed in February 2012 contained a confidentiality clause which is standard when these agreements are negotiated.
“Such a clause prevented both the trust and Mr Halsall from revealing any details of the agreement.
“I am aware that this clause has caused a great deal of disquiet in the minds of many individuals, including representatives of the media.
“It is for this reason that I am making public the terms of the severance arrangements that have applied. I would like to stress that Mr Halsall has received no more than his contractual entitlement.
“Notice periods of six months are common for appointments at this level and enable employers to advertise for and recruit a successor.
“The financial arrangements under which Mr Halsall was seconded to the NHS Confederation may well attract criticism.
“I would simply state that those arrangements facilitated the departure of the former chief executive and avoided the potential for a long drawn out dispute that would have been expensive and time consuming and also, enabled the trust to move quickly to restructure the board and recruit a new chief executive.
“The arrangement was also of benefit to the NHS more generally through the work Mr Halsall was able to perform through the NHS Confederation.
“I would add that these arrangements are being made public because both the trust and I are determined to have such matters dealt with in an open and transparent manner.
“The public interest arguments for making such information freely available are overwhelming and with that in mind, I can confirm that any compromise agreements that are entered into from now, will not be the subject of any confidentiality provisions or so called ‘gagging’ clauses, which may prevent disclosure of matters which are in the public interest.”