Storm over NHS ‘golden goodbyes’

Andy Burnham.
Andy Burnham.
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Ministers have come under fire accused of wasting huge sums of cash after it was revealed £1.4bn of NHS funding has been spent on redundancy pay-offs.

More than 950 health workers received six-figure exit deals last year, up from around 620 in 2011-12.

Some 160 received more than £200,000, according to the Department of Health’s annual accounts.

In total £1.4bn has been spent on 32,000 pay-offs over the past three years, according to Labour.

Last night the Royal College of Midwives, which recently warned another 5,000 midwives are needed in England to provide services for new mothers and their children, said the cash paid out could have been invested in much-needed frontline staff.

Jon Skewes, director of The Royal College of Midwives told the Yorkshire Post: ”The unnecessary top down reorganisation has cost the NHS and taxpayer dear.

“Billions of pounds have gone to top managers to leave and often to be reemployed or used as consultants. This money, if invested in more midwives, could have solved the midwife shortage for years to come.”

The Government’s restructure of the NHS has seen some senior managers receive up to £580,000 in golden goodbyes.

Last month, however, a National Audit Office Report into the changes, which saw strategic health authorities and primary care trusts abolished, found 2,200 staff made redundant between May 2010 and September 2012 were subsequently re-employed in the NHS.

Shadow Health Secretary Andy Burnham said the “true cost” of the the coalition’s health service shake-up was becoming clear and the figures suggested the final bill for the re-organisation would be far higher than the Government had predicted. “At a time when the NHS needs every penny it can get, we have a Prime Minister handing out gold-plated, six-figure pay-offs to thousands of managers and P45s to thousands of nurses,” Mr Burnham added.

“Billions have been siphoned out of the NHS front-line to pay for an unnecessary re-organisation no-one voted for and David Cameron personally promised would not happen. It is a colossal waste of money.

“The money he has wasted on pay-outs for managers could instead have prevented the thousands of nurse redundancies we have seen on this Prime Minister’s watch. It will be galling for any nurses who have lost their jobs to see the sickening scale of these pay-outs.”

Labour says in total, 32,000 NHS managers were made redundant over the three-year re-organisation of the health service – each taking exit packages worth an average of £43,000.

Details of NHS spending on redundancy packages are revealed in the Department of Health annual report.

Matthew Sinclair, the chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said last night: “Huge redundancy pay outs are in danger of jeopardising any benefits for health reform.

“Golden goodbyes for managers mean less cash spent on patient care.

“Health chiefs need to get a grip on the payout culture and ensure better value for money out of the service.”

A Department of Health spokesperson said: “Last year we started changes that put doctors and nurses in the driving seat as they are best placed to take decisions about care for their patients.

“The changes made as a result of the reforms mean a huge net gain for the taxpayer.

“They will save £5.5bn during this Parliament and £1.5bn every year thereafter, to be reinvested back into patient care.”