A HOSPITAL’S decision to re-hire its medical director on a bumper salary just one month after he started claiming his £1.9million pension “beggars belief”, according to a health watchdog.

Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals trust director, Basil Fozard, retired on May 31. He was believed to be earning around £130,000 in addition to £85,000 for surgical work. His pension pot is thought to be worth £1.9million.

However on July 1 Mr Fozard, who first joined the trust in 1992, was re-hired as medical director on a salary circa £20,000 higher than before - £152,000 - while continuing to claim his pension.

The day after the 59-year-old retired, health secretary Jeremy Hunt announced measures to close the loophole. His department has now said it will regulate the practice of re-hiring retired personnel and has contacted the trust asking for an explanation.

Manager of Healthwatch Dorset, Martyn Webster, said the community deserves better, adding: “At a time when the average pay of hard working nurses on the front line of the NHS has actually fallen in the past year, and a time when we’re being told that health services in Dorset need to change because otherwise there'll be a funding gap of anything up to £200 million a year, if this story is true, then it beggars belief."

Christchurch MP Chris Chope told the Daily Echo a proper explanation is needed.

“I just find it depressing to think the trust is behaving in such a cavalier way,” he said.

“Local people are entitled to know a lot more about this because it is our hospital. We are told because it is running a deficit we have to make cut backs including the possible closure of one of our A&Es.”

He also questioned whether Mr Fozard, who will no longer see patients in his new job, had faced “proper competition” for the role.

The scandal comes just weeks after the trust's chief executive, Tony Spotswood, made a pitch for his hospital to be chosen as the county's major emergency hospital ahead of neighbouring Poole.

A spokesperson for Royal Bournemouth and Christchurch Hospitals Trust said: “Basil Fozard retired from the RBCH Trust as consultant surgeon and medical director on May 31 2015, before the Secretary of State’s announcement. Mr Fozard also retired as a colorectal surgeon and no longer undertakes private practice. He since returned to the trust as medical director on July 1 2015, having undertaken no work for the trust in between.

“As his role has changed since his return, he is now spending more time as medical director and is earning 25 per cent less pro rata than he did before he retired.”