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E&S Comment: Right to question ambulance boss pay

Health minister Dan Poulter has every reason to question the cost of the chief executive of West Midlands Ambulance Service.

E&S Comment: Right to question ambulance boss pay

Anthony Marsh is paid £232,000 a year now that he also runs East of England Ambulance Service.

That is £50,000 more than he was getting when he spent all his time here. His working week is split so he is only in the West Midlands for an average of two days.

On top of this handsome remuneration for the extra responsibility, the taxpayer has been covering the cost of his hotel bills.

And now it transpires that the public purse also subsidises his taxi fares to the tune of £400 a week so he can get to work.

This is truly a different world.

Any normal worker, or private company boss, would expect that when they are away on business their out of pocket expenses are covered.

But they would not expect their employer to pick up the cost of getting them to and from the office, or for the costs of the roof over their heads.

The uplift in salary alone for Mr Marsh's additional duties is vastly more than most people earn in a year, from which they have to pay for their own accommodation, travel and breakfast.

West Midlands Ambulance Service has been very vocal in its defence of its leader's salary, stressing its claim that he saves the public purse more than £100,000 a year by doing both jobs.

That may be so, but the taxpayer has already rewarded him very substantially for the extra duties he has taken on.

The service has also been at pains to point out that the £75 a night Mr Marsh claimed for staying at the Champneys spa was a good rate.

But it still does not adequately explain why the taxpayer is covering the cost of hotel bills in the first place when it is now part of Mr Marsh's normal working week to be in the East of England.

WMAS had categorically denied it when this newspaper asked whether Mr Marsh had a driver.

It took further Press scrutiny to uncover the arrangement for him to use taxis that cost more than many working people take home in a week.

Not disclosing this arrangement when asked was little more than spin on the part of an arm of the National Health Service that should remember it is there to save lives and serve the public, not try to spin its way out of scrutiny of its highly paid chief executive.

Heaven only knows what hard-pressed and hard-working ambulance crews make of their boss's lavish pay packet.

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