More than 50,000 people in the NHS earned more than £100,000 in 2013-14, an investigation by the Taxpayers' Alliance and Daily Mail shows.
The organisations used the Freedom of Information Act to get details on pay packages for everyone from managers and hospital doctors to dentists and GPs.
Researchers included bonuses, pension contributions and redundancy payments, as well as salaries, in the sums.
The Taxpayers' Alliance said some of the figures were concerning.
In particular, the lobby group highlighted the sums being paid to senior managers.
The overwhelming majority of staff on six-figure salaries were clinical, including GPs, hospital consultants and dentists.
But nearly 2,400 of the staff were employed by NHS bodies in the UK in non-clinical roles - of these 472 earned more than £150,000.
The Daily Mail said its analysis of annual accounts of NHS bodies showed that the pay bill for NHS directors had risen by 22% in two years.
Another 534 employees of quangos were also on six-figure salaries.
'Retire and rehire'
Taxpayers' Alliance chief executive Jonathan Isaby said: "No-one begrudges paying doctors and nurses well for the tough jobs they do, but it's galling to see bosses at failing hospitals continuing to rake in the cash.
"It's an insult to taxpayers, but it's even worse for patients who have suffered because of mismanagement and worse.
"The rewards-for-failure culture is rife in the NHS and it must be stamped out as a matter of urgency."
However, separate figures from the Health and Social Care Information Centre have shown that overall the number of managers in the health service in England, including senior and lower level ones, has been falling.
There are now just over 37,600 employed - down by nearly a fifth in five years.
Ministers in England also pointed out that they had written to NHS bodies to discourage "retire and rehire" practices where staff get lucrative pay-offs and then start working again in closely linked jobs, while any salaries above the level of the prime minister's now needed to be scrutinised by the Department of Health.
Health Minister David Prior said: "We are absolutely clear that value for money for the taxpayer is vital, every pound that is wasted or spent unnecessarily is a pound that cannot be spent on looking after patients."
Rob Webster, chief executive of the NHS Confederation, defended the pay levels, saying being a chief executive in the NHS "was one of the toughest jobs in the country".
And he added: "In the toughest environment for the NHS in a generation, we need good leaders who can transform care. They need the ambition and the skills to take people with them, and have the stability and time to build relationships around a common shared goal for their local population."