Council health bosses received six-figure pay and benefits worth more than £100,000 in 2018/19.

Data collated by the Taxpayers’ Alliance shows Waltham Forest and Redbridge Council public health directors both received over £100,000 in total remunerations.

Joe McDonnel, public health director for Waltham Forest Council, received £113,211 including a salary of £96,767 and pension contributions worth £16,444.

At Redbridge Council, public health director Galdys Xavier received a total remuneration of £128,329 – including pension contributions.

The highest earning local authority employee was Mike Gogarty, director of wellbeing, public health and communities for Essex County Council, who received total remuneration of £194,020.

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 Naheed Asghar, Waltham Forest cabinet member for health partnerships and poverty education, rebuked the Taxpayers’ Alliance which claimed public health directors formed part of a “nanny state interference in day-to-day life".

“A society is only as healthy as its citizens. We all contribute to the NHS and it is important we work to prevent avoidable diseases and poor health, rather than simply wait until people need a cure. This would not be sensible use of taxpayers’ money”, she said.

“By working to educate residents about the steps they can take to improve their health and signpost them toward activities and exercise classes to improve fitness, we reduce the burden on the NHS and ensure that hospitals and GPs can focus on treating those who need it the most.”

Directors of public health lead council health teams. Cllr Asghar says they do “far more then just educate the public”.

The role, she says, is “pivotal” in protecting residents from disease outbreaks and delivering “vital” addiction support and sexual health services.

She added: “Nurses, doctors, and front-line health professionals do excellent work. The director of public health ensures that resources are co-ordinated, targeted to those who need them, and can be shown to have an impact. There is otherwise no accountability for public money spent on health, and no co-ordination between various services and organisations. We are fortunate to have an effective public health team serving the residents of Waltham Forest.”

A Redbridge Council spokesman said: “Like every other local authority, Redbridge Council has a statutory public health responsibility. The director of public gealth oversees wide-reaching and crucial work in ensuring the wellbeing of all those who live, visit and work in the borough. It is therefore misleading and disappointing for see these vital activities described as 'nanny state'.

"Just some of the responsibilities that come with this role include drug and alcohol services, sexual health services and leading the response to communicable disease and controlling infection. The remuneration is set in line with the standard for this post and includes contributions such as pension."