£1m redundancy couple paid £120k for four months work in Yorkshire

A couple at the centre of an NHS salaries controversy were paid £120k for four months work in Yorkshire - weeks after receiving £1m in redundancy payouts.

Chris Reed, interim chief executive of Leeds hospitals

The Yorkshire Post can now reveal that Chris Reed and Karen Straughair earned a total of £120k while in temporary management posts at Leeds hospitals.

Two months before starting in the city, they had received payments totalling £1m after their previous health service jobs in the North East were abolished.

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A national pressure group called the salaries an “outrageous example of the ‘revolving-door’ culture in the NHS” while a Leeds MP said it was “entirely wrong”.

The married couple came to work at the city’s hospital trusts in June last 2013 after their previous roles, as chief executives at primary care trusts, disappeared due to NHS reforms in April last year.

Bosses at Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust had previously refused to say how much the couple had been paid while working for the trust as interim chief executive and recovery director.

Now the YEP can reveal that Mr Reed received £70,000, including pension entitlements, and Ms Straughair £50,000. Both worked at Leeds hospitals between June and October last year.

Previously it has been revealed that Ms Straughair was paid more than £605,000 in redundancy from her top job at NHS South of Tyne and Wear.

Mr Reed received more than £345,00 when NHS North of Tyne was wound up.

There is no suggestion of any wrongdoing, but the case sparked national controversy when details first emerged last year - and the latest revelation has prompted further anger.

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.

Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, said: “This situation must never be allowed to happen again.”

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