Exclusive: NHS chief defends ‘extraordinary’ salary as death rates begin to fall

THE chief executive of a failing hospital trust has defended her salary and insists her organisation is on the road to recovery as new figures show its death rates are no longer a cause for concern.

Northern Lincolnshire and Goole Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was placed in “special measures” in July after a litany of failings were uncovered in a Government-ordered review by NHS medical director Sir Bruce Keogh.

The review, which followed the scandal at the Mid Staffordshire NHS trust, looked at 14 trusts with higher than expected death rates.

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But figures released by the NHS Information Centre today will show the trust, running hospitals in Grimsby, Scunthorpe and Goole, had a Summary Hospital-level Mortality Indicator of 111 in the 12 months to March – the first time it has been within the expected range since July 2011.

Chief executive Karen Jackson said: “I’m really proud of everybody and for the amount of work we’ve done over the past two years or so. This is not completely as a consequence of Keogh; this is work we have been doing.” Mrs Jackson faced calls to quit after the Yorkshire Post revealed her pay had risen to £170,000 following a £25,000 increase, which critics branded a “reward for failure”.

But speaking publicly about her salary for the first time, Mrs Jackson, the daughter of a steelworker, said: “I understand it’s an extraordinary amount of money. I also understand it’s the rate for the role and if they employed someone else they would probably have to pay them more than they pay me.”

She described the row as “very hurtful” and revealed she may have quit without the backing of her colleagues.