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Team’s pay details still being withheld

Venetta Symonds, president and CEO of the Bermuda Hospitals Board (Photo by Samantha Blakemore)

The six-figure salaries and perks enjoyed by most members of the executive team running Bermuda’s only hospital remain under wraps, despite the release of some “compensation data” earlier this week.

Bermuda Hospitals Board announced on Monday that it was releasing information on employee compensation for the last five years “in the interests of public accountability and transparency”.

CEO Venetta Symonds’s total compensation package of almost $470,000 a year was made public but no such details were disclosed for the six other members of her executive team.

Instead, the board released the total compensation range for “executive level” staff members, which is $142,300 to $470,000 a year.

Salary and compensation details for every member of the executive team were requested under public access to information legislation by The Royal Gazette in January this year.

The publicly funded quango rejected the request because it said it had to release the information anyway within three months, under separate legislation.

The three-month period cited by the board in its refusal letter ended on April 26 but the information was still not made public.

This newspaper has appealed the refusal to disclose to the independent Information Commissioner, as is the right of requesters under the Pati Act 2010, and awaits the outcome of that appeal.

As well as Ms Symonds, BHB’s executive team consists of chief of staff Keith Chiappa, chief financial officer David Thompson, King Edward VII Memorial Hospital’s chief operating officer Scott Pearman, the Mid-Atlantic Wellness Institute’s chief operating officer Patrice Dill, chief of nursing Judy Richardson, and a chief of psychiatry.

BHB chairman Peter Everson said on Monday he was pleased to note a “general trend downwards in the highest salary bands for executives and physicians, which reflects a fair and consistent approach to setting compensation”.

Bermudian Ms Symonds became CEO in April 2012, starting on a base salary of $444,230 a year, with additional perks worth $65,896.

Her predecessor David Hill, a guest worker, was on a base salary of $476,246, with additional perks, including performance pay and housing benefit, worth $174,110. Ms Symonds’s current total compensation package of $469,979 is almost 28 per cent lower than Mr Hill’s was five years ago, when he picked up $650,356 a year in total.

Mr Hill took up his post as BHB’s CEO in November 2006 and held the position for more than five years, until April 2012, when he returned to the UK.

Mr Hill was appointed, in part, to help KEMH prepare for the building of its new acute care wing, which opened in 2014.

During his tenure, the BHB received criticism over a number of issues, including the hiring of former chief of staff Donald Thomas, who was later suspended for alleged misconduct, and the formation of health partnership scheme Healthcare Partners Ltd, which lost the quango almost $750,000 over the course of three years.

The compensation information released by the BHB shows that the highest-paid physicians were picking up as much as $1.6 million in total compensation five years ago, compared to $695,000 in the last financial year.