Interim managers working in the NHS saw their daily rates grow by 6 per cent last year despite other parts of the public sector seeing falls of up to 13 per cent, a new survey suggests.

Research by Ipsos Mori found the average daily rate for an interim NHS manager increased from £667 to £707 between the third quarter of 2010-11 and the third quarter of 2011-12.

In comparison the rate of managers working in education fell from £798 to £690 over the same period. Interims working in local government saw an 8 per cent drop from £661 to £603 a day.

The research was commissioned by the trade body the Interim Managers Association. It is based on a sample of an average sample of 47 NHS managers - about 20 per cent of the total.

Steve Melber, head of healthcare at recruitment consultancy Interim Partners, attributed the increase in the NHS to the need for specialist expertise to inform mergers and foundation trust applications.

He added: “A successful merger is not easy to carry out without interruptions to service delivery, so interim managers who can point to past successes are able to command high daily rates despite wider public sector pay constraint.”