TRAFFORD'S Director of Public Health was given a pay rise to more than £100,000 a year as compensation for increased pressures during the pandemic.

The temporary move was said to be necessary in order to continue ‘a robust response to the pandemic’ and its recovery across the borough.

Helen Gollins is the acting Director of Public Health in Trafford, as Eleanor Roaf is off on a sabbatical – but the pay rise was for Ms Roaf.

But the pay rise, given initially from September 2020 to December 2020 and extended on a rolling, three-month basis until September 2021, has now come to an end.

The council report detailing the changes said: “There has been a huge amount of pressure on the Public Health team – this has led to changes to the service’s resourcing model to ensure that they have been able to meet the challenges, whilst also preventing overworking and the risk of burn-out, as the demands have continued for an unexpected and unprecedented period of time.

“Our Director of Public Health has taken on additional work, including responsibility for an expanded team and also ensuring that there is senior expertise, to be delivered over extended hours to ensure seven day support is in place.

“In order to recompense for the additional responsibilities and providing seven day cover, an honorarium payment was put in place initially from September 1 to December 31, 2020.

“As the pandemic pressures continued this has been extended for successive three month periods; it ended at the end of September 2021 as we moved into recovery phase.”

Pay packages of this level require full council approval, according to council policy.

The Director of Public Health is currently on a salary of £97,612.50, and in addition to this, has been in receipt of an honorarium payment of £250 per month since September 1, 2020 in recognition of the additional duties and responsibilities she had been obliged to undertake.

The report added: “The salary package of our Director of Public Health has been temporarily enhanced to recognise the essential advice and guidance they provide the council with, and for working extended hours, often late into the night and at weekends, so that essential services can continue to be delivered safely to our residents.

“Now that we are back in the recovery phase in a more stable position in relation to the pandemic, the salary package has reverted back to the normal annual salary.”

At Wednesday's full council meeting, council leader, Cllr Andrew Western, said: “We have been required to call upon our Public Health staff seven days a week and indeed outside of what one may consider reasonable hours over the past 18 months.

“In doing so, in reference to our Director of Public Health, given the amount of work required of her, because of the specialist nature of her role and because of the need to be able to draw upon that advice at all times, that we would pay her an additional £250 per month during the period that we have been fighting the pandemic.

“It is obviously a temporary measure, it is obviously an exceptional measure and it is obviously, in my view, an understandable measure.”

Cllr Dan Jerrome, leader of the Green Group, thanked the Director of Public Health for all of her hard work during the pandemic, but queried why the pay rise had not been brought to council sooner to vote on.

Cllr Western said he would look into the matter as he did not know why it had not come to light sooner – but said it could have ‘slipped through the net’ due to the ‘break-neck speed’ at which the council has had to operate at during the pandemic.

The retrospective pay rise was granted unanimously by the council.