Fresh health pay row as £1million redundancy couple given £120,000 for four months work

Karen Straughair
Karen Straughair
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A FORMER Sunderland health boss and her husband – who sparked controversy after accepting a £1million redundancy payment – are involved in a new salary row.

Karen Straughair, 51, was chief executive of NHS South of Tyne and Wear when the organisation was wound up last year and replaced with the Sunderland Clinical Commissioning Group.

Mrs Straughair received a £605,000 pay-off, while her husband, Chris Reed, who was chief executive of NHS North of Tyne, was given more than £345,000.

In June, both Ms Straughair, a former chief executive of Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust, and Mr Reed were appointed to jobs on the board of Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust – she as recovery director and he as interim chief executive.

It has emerged that for four months’ work, between June and October, Mr Reed received £70,000, including pension entitlements, and Ms Straughair £50,000.

The information was obtained by our sister paper, the Yorkshire Post, through the trust’s annual report and accounts figures.

Political campaigners said the move was “outrageous” but there is no suggestion of any wrong doing.

Dia Chakravarty, political director at the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “This is yet another outrageous example of the ‘revolving door’ culture in the NHS, which hits taxpayers twice – once in the form of pay-offs and then again in the form of new salaries.

“This is exactly the sort of bad management and lack of foresight we simply cannot afford in the public sector, particularly at a time when hard-pressed families are having to budget to make ends meet.”

Last month the Government vowed to recoup similar “golden goodbyes” paid to public sector workers if they get another job in the same area.

Earlier this year it was revealed that almost 4,000 NHS staff given redundancy pay-offs as part of the health service reforms had been rehired.

Through the Small Business, Enterprise and Employment Bill, currently going through Parliament, anyone earning more than £100,000 who returns to the same part of the public sector within 12 months of taking redundancy will have to return all or part of their pay-off.

A spokesman for Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust said the couple were paid in line with the roles they were fulfilling.