Councillors voted last year to approve Alex Bailey taking on the role of director of innovation and infrastructure at the NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group, in addition to his council duties.
The secondment, which started on November 3, 2017, was due to last until May 1, 2019 – but ended nearly a year ahead of schedule.
The Herald understands Mr Bailey’s return was not officially announced to all councillors.
But councillor Neil Parkin, leader of Adur Council, said he believed the news had been announced in a councillors’ bulletin back in June.
“I’m very surprised if anyone is saying that they didn’t know,” he said. “It was certainly no secret.”
A spokesman for Worthing Borough Council said: “It was envisaged that Alex Bailey would end his partial secondment to the CCG in May 2019 but changing financial priorities within the health service brought this arrangement to an end earlier than expected.
“However Alex will continue with the business of helping Adur and Worthing Councils work closely with the CCG on a range of health and wellbeing issues for residents of the district and borough.
“Many of the issues on this front demand close working between public sector bodies.”
As part of the deal, Mr Bailey’s £117,000 salary was to be reduced to £70,000, with the CCG offering him a wage of £56,000.
A report submitted to councillors last October said the council would save more than £60,000 on his budgeted salary cost, including pension contributions.
The council confirmed that the overall saving from the secondment had been £38,360.
When asked how the shortfall on expected budget savings would be met, Mr Parkin said it was ‘not a significant amount’ and that there were ‘always contingencies in place’.
Last year’s report to the joint senior staff committee explained the councils’ other senior directors shared leadership responsibilities on a rota basis.
When the Herald asked whether the councils still needed a full-time chief executive, given they had managed in Mr Bailey’s absence, the council spokesman said: “It was always the case that he would return full time to his role as chief executive of Adur and Worthing Councils.”
The NHS Coastal West Sussex Clinical Commissioning Group confirmed it was no longer paying Mr Bailey a salary.
Gill Galliano, Acting Lay Chair at NHS Coastal West Sussex CCG, said: “Alex joined the CCG on secondment last year for two days a week to support us with specific areas of work, including digital and estates, bringing his significant experience as Chief Executive of Adur and Worthing Councils.
“This year the CCG has re-focused to meet the significant financial challenges facing the NHS and deliver the organisation’s agreed financial plan.
“As a result, it was mutually agreed that Alex would return to his role in the councils at the start of June.
“We continue to work closely with him and our colleagues in Adur and Worthing Councils, especially in relation to building strong networks between health and care focused on improving outcomes for our local population.”