Health bosses have been called on to pay back bonuses totalling tens of thousands of pounds to the financially-struggling hospital trust covering Watford.

Matt Turmaine, Labour’s Parliamentary candidate for Watford, said he found it “astonishing” that senior staff had received lump sums of up to £45,000 in recent years.

West Hertfordshire Hospitals NHS Trust, which runs Watford General Hospital, said the bonuses had been sanctioned under a previous board.

The Watford Observer reported in November that top staff at the trust had shared a bonus pot of up to £165,000 in the 2012 -13 financial year.

The renewed anger over the bonuses comes after the Royal College of Nursing released a report today saying pay was rising much faster at for NHS managers than frontline staff.

The report said over the last two years top managers had enjoyed pay increases of around six per cent whereas nurses and midwives had seen their salaries increase by around 1.6 per cent over the same period.

West Hertfordshire Hospital NHS Trust was singled out as one of the hospitals which has paid out high bonuses to managers while frontline staff saw their pay squeezed.

Following the report’s release, Mr Turmaine said: “I find it astonishing that the board of Watford Hospital’s Trust should be sanctioning large bonuses for executives, including £45,000 for the Chief Executive, whilst the Trust is running at a huge deficit and is strapped for cash for the everyday running services at the hospital. Some of these bonuses are more than a nurse earns in a whole year.

“It would be appropriate for these Executives to return their bonuses to the NHS and for the Board not to sanction anymore pay increase for Executives until the Hospital is once again breaking even financially and has sufficient money for running services and much needed modernisation.”

Mr Turmaine’s comments come as the hospital trust ran up a £13.4million deficit during the latest financial year.

Today the trust said “We can confirm that the bonuses referred to in report were paid in 2012/13 and that all six of the senior managers mentioned are no longer on our trust board.”

Last year the Watford Observer reported that trust’s former chief executive, Jan Filochowski, took home the highest bonuses.

The trust’s 2012-13 accounts showed he took home between £40,000 and £45,000 in bonuses on top of his £243,000 annual salary.

Other senior staff to receive bonuses were the trust’s former director of finance, Anna Anderson, who earned between £20,000 and £25,000 on top of her £115,000 salary and former medical director, Dr Colin Johnston, who received more than £25,000 on top of his £135,000 salary.

Three other officials at the trust also earned bonuses of between £15,000 and £20,000 including Natalie Forrest, the director of nursing and acting chief executive for a period, Chris Pocklington, the former chief operating officer, and the director of workforce Mark Vaughan.