AN EXTRA £60,000 a year is being splashed out on Croydon University Hospital's two top bosses, after the chairman and chief executive roles received a pay rise.
The Advertiser can reveal John Goulston, who was announced permanent chief executive earlier this month, will be paid about £180,000 a year – at least £40,000 more than his predecessor Nick Hulme and more than the Prime Minister.
Meanwhile, Mike Bell, interim chairman of Croydon Health Services – the trust that runs the hospital – is being paid more than double what his predecessor, Michael Parker, received. Mr Bell is on £44,000 a year, compared with Mr Parker's £21,000.
News of beefed-up salaries for the hospital's two most powerful positions comes at a time when the trust is struggling to break even for this financial year.
It is currently running a £1.2 million deficit, having previously posted surpluses.
This threatens to derail the trust's chances of being granted foundation status, which could mean its services are merged with other nearby trusts.
The salary rises have divided opinion on party lines, with Conservative councillors claiming the increase is necessary to attract the right candidate, and Labour claiming the rise is "unacceptable".
Margaret Mead, Croydon Council's Conservative cabinet member for health, said: "In order to attract the best person you need to have the right salary.
"We do need to have the right salary so that the most experienced and appropriate person wants to come and work here."
However, Labour leader Tony Newman branded the rises "unacceptable".
He said: "This kind of pay rise for the chief executive when a lot of staff's pay is being frozen or cut in real terms is unacceptable.
"You must ask if this is the most appropriate way to invest funds when the trust isn't performing as well as it did before financially."
A Croydon Health Services trust spokesman refused to discuss Mr Goulston's salary, but said: "In the autumn of 2012 the non-executive directors of the trust appointed an executive search and selection company to source a chief executive, and were advised by this company of a salary range for the post.
"The trust can confirm that the current chief executive's salary is within this range."
The NHS Trust Development Authority, responsible for Mr Bell's employment, which began on January 2 and will last a maximum of 12 months, also said his salary was also necessary to attract "someone with the right leadership skills and ability".
Croydon University Hospital has had three different chairmen and two chief executives within the last year.