Unison has described a £22,000 pay award to a Lanarkshire health board senior manager as 'disgusting and a disgrace'.
Dr Dorothy Moir, director of public health, has received a£22,000 pay increase for 1999-2000, taking her annual income from£92,000 to£114,000.
But Unison's professional officer for Lanarkshire, Bridget Hunter, described the award as 'a slap in the face' to low-paid NHS staff.
'The increase would pay for a whole year's wages for a nurse, and giving someone who is already well rewarded a payment of this size is disgusting and a disgrace.
'What kind of message is this sending out to all the other staff who work hard at their jobs and who don't get any extra reward?'
A board spokesperson explained that the large award included£19,000 which was given to Dr Moir under the NHS consultants' distinction award scheme, with the balance representing 'a cost of living increase which was paid to all board staff '.
The award will be given for five years under the scheme devised to 'reward high-calibre consultants who continue to make a commitment to the NHS as opposed to pursuing the more material rewards that would result from their involvement, either whole time or part-time, in private practice'.
The spokesperson said: 'It is not for us to question the merits of these awards as they are assessed and given by an independent body and judged by external criteria. The balance of Dr Moir's pay has been the same as everybody else.'