Ambulance Watch: 999 trust boss gets £50,000 pay rise for taking on East of England role
Officials from the region's under-performing ambulance trust have defended a decision that resulted in its chief executive being paid more than £200,000 a year.
Concerns have been raised about the wage of the CEO of the East of England Ambulance Service Trust (EEAST) after his salary went from £182,000 to £232,000 - £90,000 more than the Prime Minister - after becoming the head of two ambulance trusts.
Anthony Marsh, who has been chief executive of the West Midlands Ambulance Service for eight years, became the interim head of the East of England trust in January, which has been criticised by patients, commissioners, MPs and the health regulator over the last two years for slow responses.
However, an MP in the West Midlands has urged government ministers to intervene after Dr Marsh received a £50,000 pay rise for taking on the East of England job.
Campaigners in Norfolk have also questioned how long the chief executive can continue to work 70 hours a week running the two NHS trusts.
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A statement for both trusts said: 'For the combined work his salary has been increased by £50,000, saving the taxpayer approximately £130,000 on the cost of a having a substantive chief executive in each ambulance trust.'
'Dr Marsh is now responsible for the running of both organisations, doing the job of two chief executives. He is not, however, earning the salaries of two chief executives. On average, Dr Marsh works at least 70 hours a week to ensure both areas receive his full attention. By comparison, within the same two areas, there are 11 chief fire officers and 10 chief constables.'
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'East of England Ambulance Service was a failing trust. Since his appointment as interim chief executive, Mr Marsh has brought in brand new frontline vehicles and is recruiting 400 new staff. The organisation has turned a corner.'
The public servant's salary has been criticised by West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson, who is calling on the government to act over the 'banker-style' wage.
Denise Burke, of the Act of Ambulances campaign and prospective parliamentary candidate for North Norfolk, added that she feared Dr Marsh could suffer 'burn out' if he carried on working long hours.
'He is only supposed to do a full-time job split between two and should be paid the salary of one chief executive role. It is a very unique situation for someone to juggle two quite different jobs. We are beginning to see a turnaround [at the East of England Ambulance Service] although it is a very slow turnaround.'
'I'm not necessarily against him being paid this large amount for a period of time, but I would ask how sustainable it is to have someone working 70 hours a week?'
Dr Marsh is now responsible for a combined workforce of almost 9,000 staff dealing with a daily workload of around 6,000 emergency calls. Covering a combined area of more than 12,000sq miles, the two ambulance trusts serve a population of around 12 million people.
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