NHS boss was given £600,000 pay-off – then rehired just months later

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CAMPAIGNERS have hit out after a health boss was given a £600,000 payout – only to be taken on again just months later.

Karen Straughair, 50, was chief executive of NHS South of Tyne and Wear when the organisation was wound up earlier this year.

Mrs Straughair – a former chief executive of Sunderland Teaching Primary Care Trust – 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.

But in June both Ms Straughair 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.

The couple are among dozens of senior NHS staff who were given more than £100,000 redundancy cash after 161 NHS strategic health authorities were abolished by the Government.

They have now been replaced by Clinical Commissioning Groups.

Jonathan Isaby, of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “Taxpayers will be appalled that some of these golden goodbyes ran to six figures – especially for those individuals who have walked straight through the revolving door into another highly paid public sector job.”

Shadow health secretary, Labour’s Andy Burnham, also hit out at the figures, saying: “This is precisely what we warned would happen.

“David Cameron’s refusal to listen and honour his promise of no top-down re-organisation has resulted in a scandalous abuse of precious NHS resources.

“He has given gold-plated, six-figure payoffs to thousands of managers while handing P45s to 6,000 nurses.”

The National Audit Office (NAO) estimated a few months ago that about 10,000 people had lost their jobs at a total cost of £430million.

At the time, the NAO said that 44 very senior managers were made redundant at an average cost of £277,273.

Health minister Dan Poulter defended the move.

He said: “Dismantling Labour’s bloated bureaucracy left us with a big bill, but that’s because manager numbers and wages rose so quickly on Labour’s watch, and their ridiculously lax redundancy rules tied our hands.

He added: “We have overhauled their system to make sure this can never happen again.”