A “FORMAL agreement”

means the NHS will continue to fund 45 per cent of the salary – and any other employment costs – of Herefordshire Council chief executive Chris Bull, despite changes to the top management of health care across the West Midlands.

Mr Bull is currently joint chief executive to Herefordshire Council and Herefordshire Primary Care Trust.

His role within the new NHS West Mercia – a sub-regional management cluster that groups Herefordshire PCT with those from Worcestershire, Shropshire and Telford and Wrekin – is yet to be confirmed publicly.

But this week, in a statement to the Hereford Times, Herefordshire Council confirmed that the NHS will maintain the present 45 per cent funding of Mr Bull’s salary which, with pension contributions, totalled £221,203 in 2010/11.

Mr Bull and other top bosses at the council are under fire over their salaries – some of them running into six figures – and narrowly survived a vote that would have committed them to talks on cutting those salaries when the full council met two weeks ago.

The statement from the council says the funding arrangement is “bound up in a formal agreement put in place between the council and NHS which recognises the importance of maintaining strong local leadership for Herefordshire’s health and social care system during the period of the implementation of the government’s health reforms”.

“This pioneering deep partnership between the two organisations means they continue to play a leading role in the provision of high quality local health services which are cost effective and valued by many,” it said.

In March, PCTs across the West Midlands were grouped together into five management clusters – each under a chief executive – to implement the government’s health reforms.

Chief executive to the West Mercia cluster is Eamonn Kelly from NHS Worcestershire.

All five cluster chief executives are now working through a handover period with the present PCT chief executives and their management teams.

The appointments were part of a staged process by which the new chief executives would recruit single executive teams for their relevant clusters, drawn from existing PCT staff.