SALARIES paid to NHS chiefs in Dorset have come under fire from pressure groups and protestors.

They warned that TWENTY-EIGHT frontline nurses could be employed for the price of four high-ranking NHS chiefs.

The wages were branded as ‘disproportionate’ and ‘absurd’ in the face of an economic crisis – and as Dorset County Hospital faces a £7.5million deficit.

The hospital’s board is expected shortly to announce where 200 jobs will be cut, what services could be dropped and whether such measures as a pay freeze will be introduced.

Figures released in 2008-2009 financial reports show that Dr Laurence Mynors-Wallis – the medical director for Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust – is paid between £185,000 and £195,000 a year.

He will be one of the NHS chiefs that will have to justify his wages to Gordon Brown after a warning that public sector organisations paying anyone more than £150,000 a year would be expected to justify their salaries to ministers and the public.

The former chief executive of Dorset County Hospital Jan Bergman was paid a salary last year of £140,000 to £145,000 before he resigned.

Former chairman Robin SeQueira, who stepped down before the cuts were announced, earned £40,000 for just three-and-a-half to four days’ work a week.

Dorset PCT director David Phillips, who earns £115,000, is a joint appointment between NHS Dorset and Dorset County Council.

An entry-level nurse in the UK is paid £20,710 a year – which means that almost ten nurses could be employed for the cost of one medical director.

Breast cancer patient Wendy Nightingale and protestor against the cuts at DCH said: “If only the services received more of this money that’s going on these wages we might not have such problems.

“I’m shocked to hear the amount these chiefs are being paid when nurses aren’t being replaced.”

A 45-year-old nurse, who wished not to be named, from Dorset County Hospital added: “I think it’s disgusting.

“Extra nurses would make a real difference on a ward right now where staff are having to make cuts to services that you wouldn’t believe. I think these chiefs should be taking at least half-pay until things work out instead of this disproportionate and absurd wage.”

Political director of the Taypayers’ Alliance Susie Squire slammed the high salaries awarded to NHS chiefs in Dorset and said in some cases the wages are ‘rewarding failure’.

She said: “In Dorset it shows a very troubled picture of healthcare spending priorities in Dorset.

“Frankly, healthcare workers such as frontline nurses that are low paid have had their wages frozen or services cut and these executives at the top end of the scale are enjoying hefty pay packets and pay rises that are entirely unjustifiable.

“In this economic crisis at the moment all the money available should go to patients and frontline services and not at NHS fat cats.”

She added: “Perhaps some of them have generated results, but against the backdrop of the economy and all the cuts, it is unacceptable and not something seen across other public services.

“Also, when trusts like Dorset are in so much debt it is nonsense to be rewarding failure instead of going to services – which is what the taxpayer pays for and what they deserve.”

The Dorset Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust provides mental health care across the county.

Dr Laurence Mynors-Wallis joined the trust in 1997 as a consultant psychiatrist, which pays a salary of £150,000-£155,000, and has been a medical director since 2000.

A spokesman for the trust stated that he receives a nationally-determined consultant’s salary as well as a separate remuneration amount of £35,000 to £45,000 for his position as medical director. There was no one available for comment at the Dorset County Hospital.