While ambulance trusts came out as the lowest average payers, the biggest single pay rise last year went to Gron Roberts, chief executive of Essex Ambulance Service trust, who received a 21.8 per cent pay hike.

Much of Mr Roberts'increase was due to an additional payment of£16,000 on top of his basic salary which was related to his role as ambulance adviser to the Department of Health.He also received a one-off payment for specific responsibilities during the millennium period.

Dr Jonathon Michael, now the chief executive of Guy's and St Thomas'Hospital trust, received a pay cut of 0.8 per cent last year when he was chief executive of University Hospitals Birmingham trust.

This still meant he was the highest paid chief executive at the time of the survey, on£144,000.The trust was one of seven in the IDS survey which did not give their chief executive any pay rise last year.

For other board members, the survey found that non-medical directors tended to earn a lower median wage of£55,000.For trusts with an income of less than£25m this dropped to about£42,300.The median figure was£67,250 at trusts with incomes in excess of£110m.