A Cumbrian health boss has revealed his annual salary is almost £250,000 - but he hasn't taken a pay rise in three years.

Stephen Eames is now chief executive of two of the county's main health trusts, but stressed that he doesn't get two salaries.

His appointment signalled the start of much closer working between the countywide Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust (CPFT) and North Cumbria University Hospitals NHS Trust (NCUH).

Now further efforts are being made to bring the two trusts together, bringing savings of more than £800,000.

This will include integrating support services, including human resources, finance, IT and estates, and having a joint executive team.

Mr Eames - who stressed that it wasn't a formal merger of the two trusts - said he wanted to be "open and transparent" with the public about the new structure, its costs and savings.

He said that since he was appointed as joint chief executive, there have been rumours circulating about his pay.

He was able to confirm it is still £249,000 and hasn't risen due to the extended role. "I haven't taken a pay rise for three years. That's a personal position," he said.

He said that other staff, including directors, have had a pay rise in line with the one per cent agreed across the NHS.

However he said the total number of executive posts has dropped by three as part of the restructure, saving £336,000.

Meanwhile the integration of support services will release about £500,000, taking the total savings to over £800,000.

One of the joint executive roles will be a director of workforce, to replace the two HR directors who recently left the CPFT and NCUH.

Several existing directors have been given extended responsibilities, including NCUH's Helen Ray, who is now managing director for operations across the two trusts.

The savings are after pay scales have been aligned and adjusted to reflect portfolios and responsibilities.

"These savings are mainly from management costs. That's money that we can put towards frontline services," said Mr Eames.

In total, he said the one per cent pay rise for staff was costing a total about £3m across both trusts. Of this about £17,000 was for directors.

Mr Eames added that the next step would be to look at joint non-executive director posts so that there can be much closer working.

However he said this would need to be carefully thought through to ensure there is still strong governance of both trusts.

Professor Robin Talbot, chair of governors at CPFT, said: “I’m working closely with non-executive directors and the Governor’s Council to ensure continued support, scrutiny and accountability for the delivery of the trust’s strategies and objectives.

"This includes ensuring that effective governance remains in place for the board and its sub-committees which will continue as normal. As our regulator, NHS Improvement has been kept informed and they are content with the arrangements put in place within the trust. Our governors are also being kept fully informed."

Gina Tiller, chairwoman of NCUH, said: “We have one non executive director vacancy and the board of directors is supportive of a joint board once the details have been worked through.”

Long term the plan is to create an Accountable Care Organisation to oversee the running of local health systems in north Cumbria and Morecambe Bay. These will come into force in 2019.