An interim chief executive is to be paid£33,000 a month to run a hospital trust – thought to be one of the highest salaries the NHS has ever offered.

Consultant Derek Smith, brought in at University Hospital of Leicester trust following the resignation of Peter Reading last month, is to be paid£100,000 for an initial three months’ work.

David Morgan, staffside chairman at the trust, said: ‘Most of the staff are angry about the amount of money….it is scandalous. This is taxpayers’ money.’

He questioned why Mr Reading, who was paid£180,000 a year, could not have worked out his notice while a permanent replacement was found, or if another senior member of staff could have ‘acted up’.

David Gorrod, co-chairman of the 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 spokesman said Mr Smith, former chief executive of Hammersmith Hospitals trust was being paid in line with his experience: ‘If we want the best we have to be prepared to pay for it.’