The head of the NHS Confederation has called on clinicians to 'march on the street' if their chief executives are sacked.

Chief executive Dr Gill Morgan told clinical leaders and managers that they need to stand up for each other, at the official launch of A Clinical Vision of a Reformed NHS (for more background, click here).

'We need stronger collective action. Managers are more likely to take good risks if they feel you [clinicians] are behind them,' she said.

Dr Morgan challenged delegates to speak up next time a colleague is sacked. 'When did you march on the street to say "why did you take our chief executive?"' she asked.

Dr Morgan told HSJ she was not advocating picketing or striking but wanted NHS staff to unite.

Joint Medical Consultative Council chair Professor William Dunlop agreed there was a need for more mutual support. 'People need to stand up for each other more,' he said.

Dr Morgan's comments coincided with a planned protest at a strategic health authority board meeting next week.

Around 500 people plan to picket the NHS East Midlands meeting over the exit of University Hospitals of Leicester trust chief executive Peter Reading, who stepped down three weeks ago, shortly after a£700m rebuild for Leicester's hospitals was scrapped (for more background, click here).

An interim chief executive is to be paid£33,000 a month to run the trust - thought to be one of the highest salaries the NHS has ever offered. Consultant Derek Smith, brought in at after Mr Reading's resignation, is to be paid£100,000 for an initial three months' work.

Trust staffside chair David Morgan said: 'Most staff are angry about the amount of money. It is scandalous. This is taxpayers' money.'

He asked why Mr Reading, who was paid£180,000 a year, could not have worked out his notice while a permanent replacement was found, and whether another senior member of staff could have 'acted up'.

David Gorrod, co-chair of the trust's patient and public involvement forum, questioned what a 'stopgap' chief executive could achieve in a short time and said the forum was 'troubled' by his pay.

A trust spokesperson said former Hammersmith Hospitals trust chief executive Mr Smith was being paid in line with his experience: 'If we want the best we have to be prepared to pay for it.'