Call For Job Check Over ‘Drink Drive’ NHS Boss

The Assembly Government has been urged to tighten up its recruitment procedures after a senior health official convicted of drink-driving was found a new £70,000-a-year post without having to go through formal selection procedures.

Until January, Jane Perrin, 49, was employed as chief executive of Swansea NHS Trust on a salary of around £130,000. In June last year she was convicted of drink-driving and given a three-year driving ban. Politicians thought she had left her post with the Swansea Trust on health grounds.

It has emerged that Ms Perrin is now working in a senior position at an NHS Wales quango called the National Leadership and Innovation Agency for Healthcare (NLIAH). Although resigning as chief executive at Swansea after several months on sick leave, she was technically kept on the books of the trust and seconded to the NLIAH. Ms Perrin’s resignation was reported in a staff bulletin, saying she had been seconded to the NLIAH to take up a senior position as Head of Commissioning “to lead the review of the framework for commissioning health care in Wales”.

In the same bulletin, Ann Lloyd, the Head of Health and Social Services at the Assembly Government, said, “We look forward to her applying her long experience, energy and skills to the establishment of an improved commissioning framework for the delivery of healthcare throughout Wales.” Questions have been raised about the uncompetitive nature of the way she was appointed to the quango job.

Asked to explain the circumstances of Ms Perrin’s appointment, an Assembly Government spokeswoman said, “Recruitment into the civil service is governed by the Civil Service Commissioners and their code and there is a requirement on all departments to ensure that permanent employees are recruited by means of fair and open competition. The code also sets out the principles for the recruitment of temporary employees including secondees.

“The Code makes a clear distinction between short secondments – between 12 and 24 months – and longer-term secondments. For short-term opportunities we are able to bring in individuals on the basis of their skills and by direct approach. The requirement for fair and open competition only applies to longer-term secondments. The correct recruitment policy has been followed in the case of Mrs Perrin.”

Swansea-based Liberal Democrat AM Peter Black said, “I knew she had effectively left her post with the NHS Trust on health grounds and that she had subsequently got a job with the quango. I wasn’t aware that the job had not been advertised, but then I don’t read the specialist health journals in which an advertisement may have appeared.

“I personally am unhappy about any appointment in the civil service where the post has not been properly advertised. I think it is only reasonable to expect an open and fair appointment. Clearly someone who is being appointed to a job attracting a salary of £70,000 for a year or two should be appointed by open competition, going through the usual procedures. In my office, someone has just gone on six months’ maternity leave, and I made a temporary appointment after advertising the job for a short-term replacement.

“There is also the possibility that making use of the short-term procedure where posts are not advertised could be a backdoor way to make a permanent appointment without a proper competition. Obviously someone who has been doing a job for a year or two has an in-built advantage if it is to be converted into a permanent appointment, even if a proper competition then takes place.

“I find it highly unusual that Ms Perrin was allowed to resign as chief executive, but somehow kept on by the trust so she could be seconded. It looks as if someone has been bending over backwards to help this woman, with no proper accountability. The Assembly Government should review its procedures to ensure that all job appointments are open to competition.”

Ms Perrin did not respond to our request for a comment.