A HUGE pay out handed to a senior NHS boss has been reclaimed and will be spent on patient care - after the Echo revealed details of his eye-watering £200,000 redundancy package.

Health secretary, Matt Hancock MP, confirmed yesterday that he had used his powers to reclaim the redundancy package handed to Ian Stidston when he left Southend Clinical Commissioning Group in April 2018, months before joining the equivalent group in Thurrock.

Mr Stidston was accountable officer - effectively CEO - before he was handed the bumper package - roughly £150,000 for redundancy and £50,000 in lieu of notice.

MPs and residents in south Essex reacted furiously to the news, with Mark Francois, MP for Rayleigh and Wickford, calling for the money to be returned.

Mr Francois, alongside Castle Point MP Rebecca Harris, Southend West MP David Amess, and James Duddridge MP for Rochford and Southend East, held a meeting at the House of Commons with Mr Hancock yesterday.

The health secretary praised the Echo for a “strong piece of investigative journalism” as he confirmed the money would be reclaimed and put back into front line services.

A joint statement from the four south Essex MPs said: “We would like to thank the Health Secretary for reacting to the Echo’s revelations and for intervening so rapidly to claw this money back.

“As a result, our hard-pressed NHS will now have an extra fifth of a million pounds which they can spend on patient care.

“This is a victory for common sense and hopefully the people of South Essex will benefit as a result.”

After leaving Southend commissioning group, 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.

Mr Hancock was quick to insist the money could be redirected straight back into patient care.

He said: “I am pleased that because of legislation passed under the Conservative Government, I have the power to intervene in cases like this.

“I have therefore exercised my authority as health secretary to reclaim this money, which can now be spent on patients instead.

“I would like to thank the Echo for a strong piece of investigative journalism and MPs for bringing this to my attention, so that I then had the opportunity to do the right thing.”

In the Echo’s initial story the Taxpayers’ Alliance raised serious concerns over the “trajectory of this staff member”.

At the time, the clinical commissioning group insisted the pay out came as Southend and Castle Point formed a joint management team to stream-line commissioning that has, they claim, reduced running costs.

The process resulted in the need to change roles and responsibilities, which resulted in redundancies.

Over the past two years, the Southend group has been criticised over the scale of its funding deficit and was placed in special measures until July this year.