More than £700,000 was given in 'golden goodbyes' to senior figures leaving the public body that runs ambulance service in the South West as staff were made redundant in a merger of two trusts
The biggest pay out was £292,000 made to one senior figure made redundant.
Critics said the pay-off was 'impossible to justify' after the redundancy was issued when the South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust took over the Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust.
The hand-out, revealed in the trust’s latest annual accounts, is part of more than £2.4 million paid out to 53 staff axed following the merger.
The report does not name who received the “exit package”, which is customary when it involves an executive member of a public body. Another unnamed public servant at the trust received more than £150,000 and three others between £100,000 and £150,000.
The South Western Ambulance Service Foundation Trust manages 999 calls in Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly, Devon, Dorset, Somerset, Wiltshire, Gloucestershire and the former Avon area. It employs about 4,000 staff over 100 sites, and has about 1,000 vehicles.
Bosses said the move would result in significant savings, including up to £1.5 million in the first year alone.
Jonathan Isaby, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance, said: “It’s good news for taxpayers that the trusts have been merged, but that’s no excuse for wasting those savings on over-generous golden goodbyes.
“It’s impossible to justify such huge pay-offs at a time when the public finances are stretched.
“The whole thing seems to be hidden behind closed doors; there must be more transparency whenever taxpayers’ money is being spent.”
The £2.4 million in “exit packages” was about five times more than the £542,000 handed out a year earlier.
The report said: “The majority of exit packages related to redundancies as a result of the reorganisation and relocation of the trust HQ to Exeter.”
A spokesman said the acquisition, which followed the Great Western trust struggling to become an independent foundation trust, would result in savings outstripping the redundancy costs.
She said: “The majority of exit packages within 2013/14 related to the acquisition to ensure a streamlined workforce and included the rationalisation of the management structure; with this financial outlay being more than compensated for by the year-on-year savings moving forward.
“The redundancy payment of £292,000 was awarded to a NHS director who was seconded to Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust at the time of the acquisition.
“The funding for the payment was provided by another NHS organisation and there was no detriment to ambulance services.”