A salary of £44,000 is being offered for a new chair for Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust.

The enhanced salary - nearly twice what is normally on offer for the chair of an acute trust and closer to the pay of a strategic health authority chair - comes after two unsuccessful attempts to find the right candidate for the trust, which was rated weak for quality of services in its Healthcare Commission assessment last week.

It is the first time an enhanced salary has been offered to attract a trust chair and reflects the challenges of the post, said Appointments Commission chief executive Andrea Sutcliffe.

"We need to get someone good in there," Ms Sutcliffe said.

Pressure and commitment

"We don't want to be appointing full-time chairs, but I think George Jenkins, the interim chairman, would say that the time commitment and pressure on that post is intense.

"It's in recognition of the fact that it is a very challenged trust and we have had such difficulty recruiting to the post," she explained.

Former chair James Lee resigned within days of last year's critical Healthcare Commission report into two C difficile outbreaks at the trust which contributed to the deaths of more than 90 patients.

George Jenkins, then chair of East Kent Hospitals trust, agreed to act as interim chair but, after a year in the post, he hopes to move on at Christmas.

  • Maidstone and Tunbridge Wells trust had the lowest level of C difficile cases among general hospitals in the NHS South East Coast area in August, the SHA has said. The rate was 1.4 cases per 1,000 admissions, down by 18 per cent on the April figure of 1.7 cases per 1,000 admissions. The only lower rate was at Queen Victoria Hospital foundation trust, which has a specialist intake.