TOP managers in Basingstoke's hospital trust have received pay rises of up to 18 per cent - while frontline staff have endured a pay freeze.

The latest annual accounts reveal boardroom pay at Hampshire Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, which runs hospitals in Basingstoke, Winchester and Andover - and senior managers have had huge pay rises worth up to £35,000 in 2012-13.

The trust's annual report said the rises reflected the merger of Winchester and Basingstoke hospital trusts, which meant bosses had to take on more responsibilities for a bigger, more complex organisation.

A remuneration committee set the pay levels after comparing sums paid to senior managers at other similar-sized bodies. The four executive directors received pay rises of between 10 and 18 per cent.

But the pay bonanza has angered unions. The dramatic salary rise comes at a time when most public sector pay was frozen last year and an increase capped at just one per cent this year.

Caroline Villiers, regional organiser for Unison, which represents hospital nurses, cleaners and caterers, described the top manager pay rises as “shocking.” She said: “Unison would have hoped directors would have shown more restraint. Staff have also worked hard to bring the new trust into a good position, and they were rewarded with a pay freeze.

“The merger has not been easy for staff who have had to work across sites and see posts deleted. It has been an unsettling time, and this latest news is not going to lift the current low staff morale.”

She added: “We would have preferred to see the money spent on vital services for the public or additional posts.”

The highest-earning executive director is Dr Andrew Bishop, medical director of the trust, whose pay band is now £225,000-£230,000. This is 8.8 times the average salary at the trust. Dr Bishop got a £35,000 or 18 per cent rise. His pay was £190,000-£195,000 in 2011-12.

Mary Edwards, chief executive, was handed a £25,000 pay rise for 2012-13, to bring her total pay to £190,000-£195,000. David French, chief finance officer, also received a £25,000 pay rise. His salary band is now £155,000-£160,000.

Donna Green, director of nursing and chief operating officer, saw her pay increase by £15,000 to £155,000-£160,000.

Increases of £5,000 were given to part-time non-executive directors, taking their pay to £15,000-£20,000. But Elizabeth Padmore, trust chairman, saw her salary band increase by £15,000 from £35,000-£40,000 to £50,000-£65,000.

However, overall executive director costs fell from £1million in 2012 to £713,000 in 2013 as two boards merged into one, and there are now fewer directors on six-figure salaries.

The highest paid employee was an unnamed medical consultant who was not on the board but who took home £371,000 in 2012-13.

The trust was formed when in 2012 Basingstoke Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, with Mary Edwards at the helm, took over Winchester and Eastleigh NHS Healthcare Trust.

Mrs Edwards, who joined the NHS as a nurse in 1978, subsequently took charge of three Hampshire hospitals in Basingstoke, Winchester and Andover, employing around 5,000 people with a £300million budget.

The trust declined to comment after being contacted on Friday morning, but pointed The Gazette to the annual report which included the statement: “The Remuneration Committee's policy for setting senior managers' pay is based upon sector comparability, aiming to be within the top quartile, to attract and retain the highest quality staff. It takes account of appraisal results, ensuring that it rewards good performance, not poor.”

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