A RECENTLY retired chief constable will get £70,000 a year for a minimum 15 days a month as chairman of the biggest and most troubled health authority in Wales.

Mark Polin, who last week retired as £147,000-a-year Chief Constable of North Wales, will in September take up his appointment to head the Betsi Cadwaladr health board, which is in special measures following a series of problems, including a care scandal involving a mental health unit. Chief officers receive “health insurance” as a benefit in kind as part of their salary package – in Mr Polin’s case it was £1,341, according to latest figures.

A Freedom of Information reply reveals that there were five applicants for the chairmanship, head hunting was not involved, and that the appointment was made by Welsh Government Health Secretary Vaughan Gething.

It adds : “The post is remunerated at £69,840 and the time commitment is a minimum of 15 days a month.” In May, when Mr Polin’s retirement and new job was announced, he said he was delighted to be taking up the post.

He said :” I look forward to working with all members of the Board, including the executive team, to improve health and wellbeing across North Wales and develop a clear path by which to steer the Board out of special measures.

“My research prior to selection served to highlight the scale of the challenge we face but I am confident that through clear direction, leadership, joint endeavour and good governance – coupled with the continuing support and scrutiny of Welsh Government – the necessary improvements can be achieved. I would hope my public sector experience, my knowledge of and commitment to the communities of North Wales and my existing relationships with partner organisations will also assist us all to move forward together.”

Yesterday TUE Janet Finch-Saunders, a Tory who represents Aberconwy in the Welsh Assembly, said she was shocked to hear that a post requiring only 15 days a month carried a salary of £70,000.

She said : “The fact that only five applicants came forwards in itself may indicate that this troubled health board is considered not a good move as regards career prospects.

“The health board having been in special measures and Welsh Government intervention for the past three years has already cost our hard working taxpayers an extra £10 million, much of it on consultants.

“I am certain the many hundreds of patients across North Wales who are still waiting for much delayed hospital treatment and operations will not be reassured by the costs associated with the annual remuneration of a new chairman.”

Meanwhile Darren Millar, Conservative Assembly member for Clwyd West, has called for the resignation of Vaughan Gething. He said it was three years since the board went into special measures yet problems remained, with government intervention not working.

Mr Millar declared : “As the person responsible for special measures the Cabinet Secretary owes an apology to patients and their families in North Wales and should do the decent thing and resign – he clearly isn’t up to the job.

“We need a new Health Secretary with the ability to take the action necessary to remove those responsible for the failures at the board and put an action plan together to turn it around. The people of North Wales deserve nothing less.”