A senior hospital manager has received £315,000 in salary payments from a trust in Nottingham, after being suspended on full pay for almost five years.

There was a delay of two years between the conclusion of a police investigation and Nottingham University Hospitals Trust beginning an investigation into the manager’s suspension. Its investigation took 18 months, while the manager’s suspension for gross misconduct continued.

An Audit Commission review of the case says the trust was guilty of “substantial delays” in managing the case, and that “weak performance management” of the disciplinary process led to delays in the outcome.

The manager, who has not been named, was originally suspended in November 2004 by the then Queen’s Medical Centre Nottingham University Hospital Trust, following investigations by the Serious Fraud Office and others into the tendering and awarding of building contracts.

The SFO investigation concluded in January 2006, with no action against the manager. Nottingham University Hospitals Trust took over the case, after a merger, in April 2006.

But the Audit Commission’s report - published in trust board papers dated 6 May - reveals an independent case investigator was not appointed until October the next year, an investigation into the manager’s suspension was not launched until January 2008, and the investigation was not concluded until June 2009. It says the manager received £315,000 in salary while suspended and will also receive a severance payment.

Nottingham University Hospitals Trust Unison branch secretary Martin Benn said the management of the case was unacceptable, and the money could have been better spent on extra nurses. The Audit Commission has said it will monitor action by the trust to ensure there is no repeat of this case.

In a statement, a trust spokeswoman said: “We accept the recommendations of the report. This is an isolated case. Steps to improve the management systems we have in place have been taken and lessons learned.”