The Care Quality Commission employs the highest paid senior executives among the so-called NHS arm’s length bodies, it has emerged.

Evidence submitted to the Senior Salaries Review Board by the Department of Health names the CQC as the highest paying such body, with pay for “very senior managers” averaging £151,697 and a maximum pay range of between £235,000 and £239,000.

Six senior members of staff at the CQC fall into the very senior category. They are likely to include chief executive David Behan and the three new chief inspectors, although the DH has supplied no dates for its figures.

The largest number of very senior managers are based at NHS England, with 211 qualifying for senior pay and receiving an average of £121,356. Its maximum range of pay is between £200,000 and £204,999.

The NHS Trust Development Authority has 31 very senior managers, with their pay averaging £129,205, while Health Education England has 17, receiving an average of £123,517.

Market regulator Monitor has just eight very senior managers, receiving an average of £149,603.

The average pay of a senior civil servant is £77,000, according to the submission.

In its submission to the board, which will make recommendations on the pay award to be given to 398 senior executives, the DH saidL: “The time is right to conduct a review of the framework to ensure it remains fit for purpose in terms of both its design and application.”

It also urged the board to keep in mind the need for “continued pay restraint”, arguing: “As system leaders we would expect VSMs to set an example to the rest of the service.”

The document added: “We suggest that, in the context of the paramount importance of pay restraint, the need for system leaders to support this policy and the unprecedented financial challenge facing the system, there would need to be very clear evidence of recruitment and retention problems to justify any pay increase for VSMs in 2014.

“The data in our view does not provide any such evidence.”

There are no national contracts for VSMs in NHS trusts, foundation trusts and CCGs, which are free to set their own rates of pay.