THE boss of a hospital trust who announced her resignation earlier this month received overtime pay of around £53,000 last year on top of her almost £250,000 salary.

Siobhan McArdle, chief executive of the South Tees Hospitals Foundation for the past four years, is said to have told staff in a blistering email she was standing down and protesting that demands for further efficiency savings from the trust were "too great a challenge".

She also said the “very challenging financial and regulatory environment” was a factor in her decision, adding: “I have now decided that the personal cost of being a CEO in the NHS is just too high and life is just too short.”

The South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust annual report shows that Ms McArdle's base salary was £235,000 to £240,000 in 2018-19, but it also stated an additional payment of £52,873 was made in the same year over and above base salary.

This was to "honour an historic commitment, made at the time of appointment to the role, relating to time worked over and above contracted hours.”

A spokesperson for the South Tees Hospitals Foundation Trust said: “The terms and conditions of Siobhan McArdle’s contract were agreed by our remuneration committee, (in accordance with standard NHS practice).”

The Care Quality Commission downgraded the trust from good to requires improvement after inspections earlier this year with critical care were given the worst possible rating, saying “harm occurred” to patients because beds were not available.

The trust cares for thousands of patients every day at the James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough and Northallerton's Friarage Hospital.

Speaking earlier this month, chairman of the trust, Alan Downey said: "The board of directors, council of governors and I are sorry that Siobhan has decided to resign as chief executive after serving the trust so well. However, we completely understand that, after more than four years of giving her all to the organisation, she feels now is the right time to move on to new opportunities.

“We want to thank Siobhan for the tremendous contribution she has made to the trust and wish her every success as she embarks on the next stage in her career.

“We are beginning the process of recruiting a new chief executive and in the meantime will continue to focus on ensuring that the trust is well led and that we support our staff, to enable them to provide seamless continuity of care."