A SENIOR NHS boss was handed an eye-watering £200,000 redundancy package… only to join the NHS again months later.

Ian Stidston was accountable officer – effectively CEO with the NHS’s Southend Clinical Commissioning Group - until his job was made redundant in April 2018.

He led the commissioning group, which funds frontline healthcare in south Essex, until he was handed the bumper package – about £150,000 for redundancy and £50,000 in lieu of notice.

Mr Stidston then joined Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group where he is currently interim director of commissioning, according to the September 2019 board papers.

The two commissioning groups are set to merge under plans for a new Mid and South Essex Clinical Commissioning Group, prompting concerns over why he was given the huge payment before re-joining the NHS in another senior post.

Jeremy Hutton, policy analyst at the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: “The career trajectory of this staff member is certain to raise eyebrows.

“It is unfortunately not uncommon for senior public sector employees to receive eye-watering handouts on being made redundant. What is extraordinary, however, is for that same employee to return to effectively the same organisation.”

Mr Stidston earned a salary of between £105,000 and £110,000 as accountable officer at Southend Clinical Commissioning Group.

According to the commissioning group’s remuneration report, he received a “redundancy payment in the £150,000 to £155,000 band” and a payment “in lieu of notice” in the £50,000 to £55,000 band.

The Echo quizzed the clinical commissioning group over the redundancy, asking why the payout was so large, and for an explanation on Mr Stidston joining Thurrock Clinical Commissioning Group after being made redundant.

A spokesman for Southend Clinical Commissioning Group insisted the payment was in line with national protocols.

He said: “NHS Southend and NHS Castle Point and Rochford Clinical Commissioning Groups (CCGs) formed a joint management team to streamline commissioning that has ultimately reduced running costs. This process resulted in the need to make changes to roles and responsibilities of existing staff and put in place some temporary staffing arrangements to ensure clinical commissioning groups’ legal duties were met. This also resulted in redundancies.”

Over the past two years, Southend Clinical Commissioning Group has been criticised over the scale of its deficit and was placed in special measures until July. It was originally placed in special measures in October 2017 after it emerged there was a huge deficit in funds.

At the time, the clinical commissioning group had a £7million deficit.

'It's the same old story!'

HEALTHCARE bosses have been accused of wasting cash as it emerged some of the highest paid directors are only employed on a temporary basis.

A Save Southend NHS member slammed Southend CCG as “once again” directing major cash to management positions, while frontline services are left “strapped for cash”.

A CCG document containing senior management salaries and pensions entitlements, revealed that five executive members are in “interim” positions - often with large salaries.

One, Cathy Gritzner, was employed as an “interim accountable officer” between September 2018 and February 2019 - earning between £45,000 and £50,000.

The commissioning group were quick to point out that this was a fee paid to an agency, rather than directly to Mrs Gritzner.

The group insisted that temporary staffing were put in place as a necessity to ensure legal duties were met as a joint management team was put in place.

However Mike Fieldhouse, of Save Southend NHS, slammed the figures, insisting it is the same old story he has heard for ten years.

He said: “It is the same story we always hear, and we have become used to it over the last decade.

“It is big money going to management positions who as far as you can tell do not contribute.

“The money is not going to the front line, it is not going to front line staff or front line services.

“I am afraid it’s a sorry tale we often hear.

“We hear regularly about pay freezes for nurses, there is never an increase for staff.

“People are earning the same as they did ten years ago, and even less in terms of real time earnings.

“It is disheartening.

“We have had many disagreements with the CCG over the years about how they spend its money and how it is shared throughout the organisation.”

The commissioning group insisted the joint management team has ultimately reduced running costs.

The document revealed other high earners saw an interim “chief finance officer” Mark Baker, cost the group between £35,000 and £40,000, after taking on the role in October 2018.

Again, the fee was paid to an agency, rather than directly to Mr Baker.

The group stated that the process of creating a joint management team between Southend commissioning group and Castle Point and Rochford commissioning group resulted in the need to make changes to roles of existing staff, and put temporary arrangements in place.