Published:25/04/2002, Volume II2, No. 5802, Page 18 19

I have become irritated by the mathematical illiteracy surrounding the debate about chief executives' pay rises.

It is hardly surprising that a cohort of chief executives will receive a pay rise greater than national pay awards between two years. You would get the same result with a cohort of any other staff. This is because of the effect of increments.

In my trust, about two-thirds of staff are not at the top of their scale. An increment generally represents a 4 per cent annual pay rise. To take Dr Dudley's example, staff in post would, on average, have received a 2.7 per cent pay rise for their increment between 1998-99 and 1999-2000 on top of their 3.2 per cent pay award. This equates to a 6 per cent rise on average. What did the chief executives receive in that year according to Dr Dudley - a staggering 6 per cent.

In other words, the rise given to chief executives for performance was, on average, the same as given to other staff for their increment. An increment is not subject to good performance. In 2000-01 chief executives' pay rises must have actually been less, on average, than other staff.

Bob Curtis Head of information East Gloucestershire Hospitals trust