Turnover rates for NHS trust directors increased by a third in the year to March 2010, according to latest figures from Incomes Data Services.

At non-foundations, turnover excluding retirements rose by 17 per cent in 2008-09 to 24 per cent in 2009-10, while at foundation trusts it increased from 14 to 21 per cent.

Steve Tatton of IDS said: “As turnover rates at NHS boardroom level continue to rise, the question must be asked as to how such instability at the top can be beneficial to the NHS at a time of rapid change.”

Managers in Partnership chief executive Jon Restell said: “A revolving door at the top undermines staff confidence.”

NHS Confederation deputy chief executive David Stout said the rise “may be a result of a greater number of directors’ tenure coming to an end”.

The report also revealed that median total earnings for non-foundation trust chief executives reached £152,500, compared with £164,500 at foundations.