Pair’s rich pickings from Leeds NHS

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A couple at the centre of an NHS salaries controversy were paid £120,000 for four months work in Leeds – weeks after receiving £1m in redundancy payouts.

The Yorkshire Evening Post can now reveal that Chris Reed and Karen Straughair earned a total of £120,000 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.

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 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.

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 earning more than £100,000 who return to the same part of the public sector within 12 months of taking redundancy.

Greg Mulholland, MP for Leeds North West, said: “We already know about the scandalous sum that this couple were paid from NHS budgets in redundancy, then came back into the NHS in similar positions, earning good salaries as well.

“That’s entirely wrong and people will be rightly outraged at a time when the pressure on these budgets is huge.”

He said the situation “must never be allowed to happen again” and he was glad the Government was legislating to prevent it.

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

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