Bottomley defends rises for NHS executives

Mrs Bottomley said NHS managers had a difficult job to do in seeing through a "real transformation in services" which had led to a more efficient NHS.

Margaret Beckett, Labour's health spokesman, said: "The pay and conditions of people who deliver the services are being squeezed and the pay and conditions of those at the very top are burgeoning way out of expectation.

"No one is against people who have considerable responsibility being fairly paid but what we are seeing here is the ethics of private business being brought into what was a public service.

"We are seeing in effect the commercialisation and privatisation of the NHS."

The money could be used to employ thousands of extra nurses, Mrs Beckett told BBC Radio 4's Today programme.

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