HEALTH trusts have been criticised for spending hundreds of thousands of pounds to pay off staff.
New figures show that one employee at Sunderland Primary Care Trust (PCT) was given a severance package of £22,000, while six workers at County Durham PCT were handed packages worth a total of £56,000.
Altogether, North East trusts spent £607,000 on getting staff to leave their posts in 2011/12.
Health bosses say the payments are in line with national guidlines.
But union boss Glenn Turp, regional director of the Royal College of Nursing for the Northern Region, said: “Obviously people are entitled to their redundancy payments, and where these are legitimate entitlements we fully support that.
“Our concern is where people have been made redundant from primary care trusts, and then immediately re-employed in a different area of the NHS, like the Government’s new Clinical Commissioning Groups.
“Whilst there is nothing illegal about this practice, it does raise the question of whether it is suitable for these employees to be laid off in the first place, and to receive sometimes substantial exit packages, when they are then being rehired in a similar role within the NHS’s new structure.
“The danger is that these people are being made redundant from PCTs, whereupon their managers realise they are suffering from a skills shortage and desperately need these skills back.
“They are then in the situation of re-employing them substantively, or as a consultant.”
A spokesman for NHS South of Tyne and Wear, on behalf of Sunderland Teaching PCT, said: “While we cannot comment on individual cases, there are strict requirements and authorisation processes governing the departure of staff within the NHS.”
The figures were revealed after shadow health secretary Andy Burnham asked what the cost of redundancies in each PCT area was.