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£54,000 payment for ex-Suffolk NHS boss who got top job at Colchester Hospital three months later

PUBLISHED: 09:11 12 July 2017 | UPDATED: 09:25 12 July 2017

Colchester General Hospital. Picture: GREGG BROWN

Colchester General Hospital. Picture: GREGG BROWN

A former Suffolk mental health boss who received a £54,000 payment after resigning rejoined the NHS three months later in a top role at the trust which runs Colchester Hospital.

Alison Armstrong resigned as director of operations at the Norfolk and Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust (NSFT) in January 2017 after two years. She was applauded for helping to remove the NSFT from special measures and improving services.

Health board documents have now revealed Ms Armstrong, who earned between £130-135,000 per year, received a £54,000 payment in respect of an entitlement to payment in lieu of notice.

In April 2017, she became the head of operations for medicine and emergency care at the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust.

The disclosure has prompted fresh concerns over the “revolving door culture” of NHS managers finding similar work soon after leaving a job in the same area.

Mark Robinson, Unite’s lead officer for health in the East of England, said: “It is commonplace to see senior managers in the NHS leave one organisation after a relatively short period of time and receive a significant pay off, only to resurface in another local trust shortly afterwards.

“This causes instability (and) is money that would be better spent in providing a decent pay rise for hard-hit NHS staff and improving patient services. The management ‘merry go round’... must stop.”

The NSFT ended the 2016/17 year with a £3.3m deficit, a fall from £8.9m in 2015/16.

TaxPayers’ Alliance grassroots campaign manager James Price said: “Taxpayers will want to know why someone is receiving a huge lump sum for leaving, only to walk immediately into another senior role somewhere else.

“Of course staff who are performing well will require adequate remuneration. But unfortunately this revolving door culture means that taxpayers are getting hit twice: once in the form of a payout and then again in the form of new salaries.”

Ms Armstrong and the Colchester Hospital University NHS Foundation Trust declined to comment.

A NSFT spokesman said: “Alison Armstrong announced her resignation from the role of Director of Operations (Suffolk) in December 2016. We can confirm that Alison received her NHS contractual (and legal) entitlement in lieu of notice.”

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