Eight-fold rise in redundancy costs at Department of Health, while hundreds more hired

Laura Donnelly
Critics have attacked a 'merry go round' of waste with a pattern or redundancies and rehirings - Rex Features


Spending on “golden handshakes” and voluntary redundancy deals has risen eight-fold in a year at the Department of Health, official figures show.

A parliamentary answer reveals that more than 700 staff left due to restructuring and cost-cutting programmes, despite plans to take on hundreds more.

The figures, which cover the Department of Health (DoH) and its agencies, show £39m spent in total in 2016/17. This compares with £5m the year before.

Across the whole of the NHS, including the DoH, a total of £153m was spent - a rise from £141m the year before.

In a parliamentary answer published this week, Health Minister Philip Dunne said "voluntary exits" of DoH staff accounted for £31m. A further £1.4m was spent on compulsory redundancies, the Health Service Journal (HSJ) reported.

The remaining £6.6m is thought to have been spent on voluntary redundancies at agencies including Public Health England and the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency.

In March ministers were criticised after revealing that 340 new civil servants were just about to be recruited, despite the mass redundancies, largely in order to respond to Brexit.



More than 600 NHS quango chiefs are on six figure salaries 

Critics rounded on the Government, accusing ministers of embarking on a costly and wasteful exercise, at a time when money is short. Almost £2bn had already been spent on NHS redundancies since 2010.

Earlier this year, official statistics showed that in the last three years, more than 1,000 civil servants and senior NHS officials received exit payments of at least £100,000, with 165 receiving at least £200,000.

More than 600 NHS quango chiefs are now on six-figure salaries, with a doubling in the number earning more than the Prime Minister in just three years, separate figures show.

In 2010, the Conservatives pledged to reduce spending on NHS bureaucracy. A major reorganisation of the health service reduced administrative costs, but has resulted in almost £2bn being spent on redundafncies.

At the height of the restructuring, more than £90m was spent in redundancy to officials who were immediately rehired, sparking accusations of a “merry-go-round of waste”.


One married couple received a combined settlement of almost £1m before finding new jobs at NHS trusts.

A statement from the department said: "The department undertook a redesign and subsequent restructure to make sure it is best placed to meet current and future health and social care challenges facing our country.

"Redundancy and other departure costs were paid in accordance with the provisions of the civil service compensation scheme."



As health secretary, Andrew Lansley introduced a restructuring of the NHS, which created a host of new organisations 
Why is the NHS under so much pressure?