Published: 14/04/2005, Volume II5, No. 5951 Page 35

Average salaries for finance professionals range from around£27,000 for directorate accountants to£53,000 for deputy directors, according to one of NHS Partners' 2004 Pay and Reward reports.

The labour market for finance managers is tight and recruitment consultants are reporting growing vacancies. This is due to new financial regulations and a reduction in graduate intake in 2001-02.

The public sector, however, is attractive to accountants. This may be because the pay gap between the public and private sectors has narrowed or even gone into reverse.

More flexible and family-friendly working patterns and the introduction of modern accounting practices are making it more inviting too.

But there is a shortage of accountants with public sector experience, compounded by managers' beliefs that private sector accountants would struggle with public sector terminology and practice.