Health secretary Sajid Javid scraps NHS Chief People Officer role in bid to save £200,000 a year as he declares war on waste
The Mail on Sunday revealed last September how NHS England was paying former Unilever executive Prerana Issar £230,000 a year to be its Chief People Officer.
That was £35,000 more than former NHS boss Sir Simon Stevens, who helped recruit her to the NHS position in April 2019. Her salary was also half as much again as the Prime Minister’s.
At the time, Sir Simon said the newly created NHS post was vital in ‘promoting flexibility, well-being and career development, and redoubling our efforts to address discrimination, violence, bullying and harassment’.
Ms Issar’s concerns included diversity issues and she frequently tweeted about matters such as the NHS’s Workforce Race Equality Standard, Pride events and transgender rights.
Health Secretary Sajid Javid (above) is scrapping a top NHS post with an ‘inflated’ £230,000 salary as part of a new salvo in his war on waste
But four months ago she announced she was stepping down due to ‘Covid-related illness’.
Now the role, renamed Chief Workforce Officer, is to be taken on by psychiatrist Dr Navina Evans. But she will assume its responsibilities while continuing with her existing job as chief executive of Health Education England.
She is currently paid about £200,000 for heading HEE, the quango responsible for NHS workforce planning and training.
A well-placed source said while Dr Evans would receive ‘some uplift’ to her salary for the extra work, it would be relatively modest.
Axeing the stand-alone post is likely to save the NHS £200,000 a year. As well getting an annual salary of £230,000, Ms Issar also received just over £50,000 a year in pension-related benefits. The total bill for her three-and-a-half year tenure could top £1 million.
Ever since being appointed Health Secretary just over a year ago, Mr Javid has been at pains to stress the NHS must be more prudent with its vast budget. Last autumn, as Tory MPs voiced disquiet about plans to raise National Insurance contributions, which will bring in £12 billion a year more for health and social care, he vowed to be ‘watchful of any waste or wokery’ in the NHS.
Now the role, renamed Chief Workforce Officer, is to be taken on by psychiatrist Dr Navina Evans (pictured)
He also used the launch of a major review of NHS management last month to signal that the recent proliferation of ‘diversity and inclusion’ posts across the NHS – some paying over £80,000 – had to stop.
The role should be carried out by other employees as part of their general workloads in the future, he made clear. Last night, Danielle Boxall of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘Taxpayers tired of funding endless diversity non-jobs with inflated salaries will be delighted at this development. Diversity duties should be handled by existing human resource departments, with savings going to frontline services.’
The canning of the stand-alone Chief People Officer post is part of a wider rearrangement in which Health Education England will be brought within NHS England.
Dr Evans is highly regarded, with insiders praising her calm and collaborative approach. Those skills are likely to be needed when she takes the helm at NHS England’s ‘People Directorate’. A 2021 internal survey found the Directorate’s staff had lower morale than any other part of NHS England’s management. It also scored lowest for ‘compassion and inclusivity’.