THE chief executive of Salisbury District Hospital has resigned only six months after starting the job, which pays £150,000 a year.

The hospital confirmed in a statement this morning that Caspar Ridley has handed in his resignation, saying he has decided to “pursue other opportunities”.

Chief operating officer Peter Hill has been appointed interim chief executive of Salisbury NHS Foundation Trust.

Trust chairman Luke March said: “I would like to take this opportunity to thank Caspar for his contribution and wish him well for the future.

“Peter Hill will provide continuity in leadership, an in-depth knowledge of the organisation and the skills we need for this period and I am delighted that he is taking up the role of interim chief executive.”

Before coming to Salisbury, Mr Ridley was director of strategy and business development at University Hospital Southampton.

The father-of-three is also a former deputy vice-president for Shell International and global head of public and government affairs for agribusiness Syngenta.

This year Mr Ridley and the trust board have led the hospital into a controversial pay consortium, which staff fear could see their salaries cut by up to 12 per cent.

Salisbury District Hospital has joined with 19 others in the south west to explore ways to cut the wages bill to about 60 per cent of its annual budget, which could involve reducing overtime payments, sick pay and holiday entitlement for long-serving staff.

A petition with about 1,500 signatures opposing the pay cartel will be handed to hospital bosses later this month.