• Standard salary for chair of non-foundation trusts is capped at £23,600, but exceptions can be agreed with the government
  • TDA letters explain how chairs at two London trusts indicated they could not “agree to commit to a further term of office at their current rate”
  • Annual reports show variation in salaries paid to chairs of largest trusts, with some paid up to £45,000

Several NHS trusts have gained permission to substantially increase the salary of their governing board chair above the standard rate.

The top standard rate for the chair of a non-foundation trust is £23,600, but exceptions can be agreed with the approval of government ministers.

St Bartholomew's Hospital

St Bartholomew’s Hospital

The TDA recommended a salary of £40,000 for the chair of Barts Health Trust

Letters obtained by HSJ through a freedom of information request reveal how Sir Peter Carr, then chair of the NHS Trust Development Authority, wrote to ministers last year outlining the case for paying a higher salary to the chairs of four “high profile” and “challenged” organisations. He also sought discussions with ministers about increasing the standard rates.

In January last year he wrote that Elizabeth Butler, chair of Lewisham and Greenwich Trust, and Maureen Dalziel, chair at Barking, Havering and Redbridge Hospitals Trust, had indicated they could not “agree to commit to a further term of office at their current rate of £23,600”.

He stressed the difficulties faced by both trusts and recommended a salary of £40,000 for both roles.

Another letter, in February 2015, recommended a salary of £40,000 for the chair of Barts Health Trust and £30,000 for the chair of Hinchingbrooke Health Care Trust, which were both vacant at the time.

HSJ understands all the requests were approved.

BHRT and Lewisham and Greenwich confirmed their chairs are paid £40,000.

The current chair of Barts is John Bacon. The trust declined to say whether Mr Bacon is paid the higher salary. This information is due to be published in June in its annual report.

Alan Burns is chair at Hinchingbrooke and the trust confirmed he is paid above the standard rate.

The standard rates for trust chairs are split into three bands related to trust turnover: £18,621; £21,105; and £23,600. The TDA said there are 41 trust chairs paid at a level above their band.

The 2014-15 annual reports for the 10 largest NHS trusts showed the majority, including Imperial College Healthcare and University Hospitals of Leicester Trust, appear to pay their chairs the standard rate. Salaries were stated in a band of £20,000-£25,000.

Leeds Teaching Hospitals and University Hospitals Coventry and Warwickshire paid £40,000-£45,000, while Pennine Acute Trust paid £25,000-£30,000.

The top standard rate for foundation trust chairs is £67,500.

Last year, the TDA told all trusts to review their arrangements for non-executive pay after a report found Royal Liverpool and Broadgreen University Hospitals Trust made three sets of additional payments to non-executives that were not approved by the government.

Regulator lobbied government to increase trust chairs’ pay