Anthony Jones, who has been vice-chairman since August and a non-executive since March, takes over from interim chairman George Jenkins on 1 January.
He will be paid£44,000 a year for his work rather than the£23,000 originally on offer.
The unprecedented decision to offer an increased salary was taken after a new chairman was not appointed despite several advertisements.
The trust’s last permanent chairman, James Lee, left in October 2007, shortly after the publication of a critical report into the trust’s handling of two C dificile outbreaks.
Mr Jones, 64, is a former director of human resources at Jaguar and lives at Hartlip, near Sittingbourne.
He said his philosophy would be to treat patients as he would expect to be treated.
“To put it simply, patients will be at the centre of everything we do,” he said. “The challenge as we enter 2009 is to keep building on the improvements we’ve made and prove to the public that Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells is a trust everyone can take pride in again.”
The trust now has some of the lowest rates of hospital-acquired infection in the NHS South East Coast area and is opening a new international laparoscopic training centre in 2009.