A county council health boss is the highest paid local authority public health director in the UK.

Research from the Taxpayers’ Alliance found Dr Mike Gogarty, director of wellbeing, public health and communities for Essex County Council, received total remuneration of £194,020 in 2018/19 – the highest of any council health director in the country.

Essex County Council’s leader, Cllr David Finch defended his pay, saying Dr Gogarty was one of the most senior health officials in the region.

Dr Gogarty’s salary was £165,337 in 2018/19, his total remuneration includes pension contributions and expenses payment.

Across the UK, over 350 employees enjoyed remuneration of more than £100,000 in 2018-19, and 21 received more money than the Prime Minister.

Scott Simmonds, researcher at the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Brain surgeons, consultants, nurses and carers deserve their salaries but it's hard to justify such sky-high pay bills for the high priests of the nanny state.

“Typical taxpayers are subject to a deluge of media stories criticising them for their lifestyles, with many sick to the back teeth of being judged and lectured by well-heeled quangocrats. Where someone is earning huge amounts at taxpayers’ expense they must be accountable to the people who pay the bill and who rely on the services they run."

Cllr David Finch, Leader of Essex County Council, said: “Dr Gogarty is paid at a rate determined by his former remuneration in the NHS, based on national medical consultant pay scales. These reflect his length of service in the NHS prior to the transfer of public health from the NHS to local authorities. He is paid the same as any other doctor with this background.

“Dr Gogarty is one of the most senior public health professionals in the region, working for one of the biggest councils in the country. He provides public health advice and guidance to five NHS CCGs across Essex covering over 1.4 million residents. Essex’s Public Health Service is a national leader and innovator in successfully tackling important health issues such as smoking, alcohol abuse and obesity.

“His role has expanded to include vital work improving our population’s mental health, tackling social isolation and helping communities become stronger and more self-sufficient.”