Three NHS managers reportedly received redundancy payments totalling nearly £1m - even though they continued to work for the health service.
Rob Cooper, former deputy chief executive at Yorkshire and the Humber Strategic Health Authority, received between £370,000 and £375,000, but then became finance director for a healthcare trust before moving to another NHS post.
Steve Spoerry got £335,000 to £340,000 after redundancy from his job as managing director of Halton and St Helens Primary Care Trust, but then took other NHS jobs until settling as director of strategy at South and West Yorkshire and Bassetlaw NHS Commissioning Support Unit.
And Annette Laban received a £285,000 to £290,000 payoff when she left her job as chief executive of Doncaster Primary Care Trust. She now has a part-time post as a non-executive director of Sheffield Teaching Hospitals, earning £15,500 a year, which does not technically count as an NHS staff job.
They appear on a list of 36 health chiefs who received a total of more than £10m in redundancy payments, according to The Times.
NHS staff only have to wait four weeks after redundancy before they can take up a new job, although the chief executive of NHS England, Sir David Nicholson, has asked managers to wait six months at least.
Mr Cooper said: “Whilst I have continued to work in full-time employment in the NHS since March 2013, I have only charged for 75 per cent of my time, which I believe reflects the spirit of the letter from Sir David.”
Labour and Conservative MPs were outraged by the payoffs, although there is no suggestion that any rules were broken.
Steve Barclay, a Tory member of the Public Accounts Committee, said: “This is typical of the revolving-door culture that follows publicly funded redundancy payouts and reflects a culture within the NHS which remains cavalier with public money.”
And Margaret Hodge, chairwoman of the committee, said: “We all know of the challenges the NHS is facing financially, so to see it openly wasting money in this way, shovelling out redundancy payments and then rehiring people elsewhere in the system is scandalous. It also looks as if the NHS has misled both the National Audit Office and the taxpayer to the tune of over one million pounds. It is not acceptable.”
Andy Burnham, the Shadow Health Secretary, said: “Anybody who never left the employment of the NHS should pay back any redundancy they've received. The sheer scale of the waste is breathtaking, a scandalous abuse of precious NHS resources.”