A struggling hospital trust is refusing to explain why a director is still being paid his £185,000 annual salary despite not being at work for six months.
Professor George Thompson has not worked at Rotherham General Hospital since November and an acting medical director has been appointed in his place.
A spokesman for Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust said the reason for his absence was “exempt” from disclosure.
“Professor Thomson remains in the employment of the Trust but is not currently fulfilling the substantive role of medical director,” she added.
“It would not be appropriate for us to provide information about the reasons for Professor Thomson's absence and I am sure you will appreciate that it would be usual practice for an acting arrangement (such as the one that has been put in place) to cover a period of absence, and that this is particularly important to cover a key role such as trust medical director.”
Prof Thompson joined Rotherham General Hospital in 2012 from Sherwood Forest Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust.
He was also a member of the editorial team at the International Journal of Clinical Practice and an Honorary Professor of Diabetes at Sheffield Hallam University.
His absence comes at a turbulent time for the trust, which had an underlying deficit of £13 million in the 2012/13 financial year.
The government’s health watchdog, Monitor, is regulating it after financial planning and governance breaches were found and the trust failed to implement a new patient records system properly.
A venture capital company, Bolt Partners, was brought in last year to turn around its finances and a report into the trust’s board was carried out by Deloitte.
Marked “private and confidential”, the report was not released to the public until after a complaint to the Information Commissioner.
Inspectors found the trust’s board, which at the time included Prof Thomson as an executive director, to be “dysfunctional and ineffective”.
The report said: “We believe that this situation is having a detrimental impact on the health of the Trust and remedial action should be taken immediately.
“Relationships at board-level are severely fractured and strained.”
A part of the report that addressed problems with directors’ behaviour was redacted.