An NHS locum doctor is reportedly set to take home close to half-a-million pounds in wages this year, according to new figures.
The hospital doctor, who works shifts to fill gaps in understaffed trusts, is believed to be the highest paid doctor in Britain.
The Times said it has seen data that covers 50 hospitals from Liaison, a company that processes locum payments, that shows the doctor is set to make £468,056 in 2015.
Last year the top-paid locum, an unnamed general medicine doctor, made £441,672 and cost the NHS an extra £23,890 in commission to arrange the shifts, the newspaper said.
Katherine Murphy, the chief executive of the Patients Association, told The Times: "Patients will find it very, very difficult to understand or to justify anybody earning that kind of salary.
"It doesn't make sense when people are waiting longer for operations and when it is difficult for people to get the treatment they deserve. If the money is there to pay locums these exorbitant fees, why aren't they recruiting and training?"
Previous research from Civitas found the typical charge for a consultant from an agency is £1,760 a day, equivalent to a pro-rata salary of £459,000.
The think tank said that as the salary of an NHS consultant is between £75,249 and £101,451, four consultants could be employed by the NHS for the price of one agency staff member.
A Department of Health spokesman said of the new data: "These figures are just a snapshot of one company's activity so does not give us the full picture of what is happening across the NHS.
"Having the right number of staff is vital so we have prioritised and invested in the frontline by employing 20,600 extra clinical staff since 2010 and committing to 5,000 more doctors in primary care by 2020.
"We are also supporting the NHS to employ the staff it needs at a fair price by introducing cost-control measures to clamp down on extortionate agency rates."