Health Minister Gained £8000 in Revolving Door

Health Minister Gained £8000 in Revolving Door

While there has been a lull in “greedy dentist” stories, they are never far away. The incongruous spectacle of MP’s demanding that dental graduates work in the NHS has not discouraged at least one health minister from a particularly questionable bolstering of their own remuneration.

Maria Caulfield (Conservative Lewes) will be familiar as the former Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) who often dealt with dental matters. To be precise she is both a former and current Under-Secretary at that department. As MP’s probity is increasingly called into question and public finances are stretched, particularly in the health service, her recent remuneration may raise questions on both her judgement, and motivation.  She lost her job as a Minister and received £8,000 severance payment. Seven weeks later, and despite this extra payment, she was re-appointed to the same role.

Like many parliamentarians she has sometimes struggled with basic maths, exhibiting some confusion over the claimed £50 million of funds that were repeatedly said to have been put into NHS dentistry, when barely half was in fact provided. Despite this she has retained the ability to collect an appealing extra payment for herself, when available.

Caulfield’s time as Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care (DHSC) under Boris Johnson, came to an end in the reshuffle that followed Liz Truss becoming PM. When 50 days later Truss was replaced by Rishi Sunak, he appointed her – back to the role of Under-Secretary of State at the Department of Health and Social Care. Despite this she received a severance package of £7,920. It is unlikely that Maria Caulfield was left particularly hard up by her seven weeks on the back benches, as apart from the MP’s salary she received £20,000 in donations in the year, with three private donors accounting for £17,500 of this. Readers may have their own perspective on which of the MP’s views attracts this level of support.

In a further revenue stream, Caulfield continues to employ her husband as her office manager. Following persistent accusations of nepotism, MPs first elected in or after 2017, have been banned from employing family members, however the restriction is not retrospective.

The ministers £200 pound a day windfall has now come to light following the Health Service Journal’s investigation of government accounts.

Caulfield held Lewes in 2019 by a modest margin of under 3000 votes in what has for some years been a seat fought over by the Conservatives and Liberal Democrats.  She may shortly be eligible for a further severance package, this time in the circumstances for which it was designed.    


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