Hospital Director Receives Controversial Pay Rise

7.9.2012
Words by Paul Fontaine
The director of the National Hospital has recently been granted a pay rise of nearly half a million ISK. The Minister of Welfare says the rise was in keeping with the growing demands of his job, while others argue it sends the wrong message.

Vísir reports that Minister of Welfare Guðbjartur Hannesson has raised National Hospital director Björn Zoega's salary by 450,000 ISK. He now makes 2.3 million ISK each month.

While the rise has sparked controversy in the public discourse, Guðbjartur has defended the decision by saying that Björn is not only the hospital director; he is also a specialised surgeon, and the number of operations he has had to perform has been increasing significantly. The added work pressure, he says, led to the conclusion that a rise was in order.

However, Björn was also being courted by a large hospital in Sweden, RÚV reports, who wanted to hire him as the director there. The position would come with a higher salary than what Björn was getting, and this in turn prompted Guðbjartur to match the offer with a pay rise.

Progressive MP Eygló Harðardóttir, who is also on the parliamentary welfare committee, told reporters she felt this sent the wrong message. "If a minister believes there is a reason to raise the salaries of his subordinates, it would naturally be most important to look towards those who are providing service directly," she said, meaning doctors and nurses, many of whom have themselves received lucrative job offers from abroad in the health care field.

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