More than 300 NHS workers in the North East who were paid off in the reorganisation of the health service have since been re-employed, ministers have admitted.
The “revolving door” was condemned by opposition MPs, who said changes to the NHS had led to payouts for many managers who were then re-hired.
NHS bodies such as regional health authorities and primary care trusts were abolished by the Coalition, with a new national body called NHS England created to commission services nationally, while GPs created local Clinical Commissioning Groups across the country.
But the changes led to some staff effectively moving between organisations - while receiving redundancy packages along the way.
Health Minister Daniel Poulter revealed that 310 NHS staff have been made redundant in the North East then re-employed since May 2010.
They included 170 staff who are now on permanent contracts and 140 on fixed-term contracts.
He was responding to questions from Stephen Hepburn, Labour MP for Jarrow.
The minister also revealed that a total of 1,170 NHS staff in the North East had been made redundant since April 2010, meaning more than one in four staff made redundant were then re-employed.
Figures previously published have revealed that the NHS in the North East had spent £11,413,258 on redundancy payments.
One couple who worked as NHS managers were paid nearly £1m in redundancy money only to be rehired by the health service within weeks.
The former chief executive of NHS South of Tyne and Wear, Karen Straughair received more than £605,000 when they body was wound up, while partner Chris Reed, chief executive of NHS North of Tyne, was paid more than £345,000 when his organisation was abolished.
Both were re-employed by Leeds Teaching Hospitals NHS Trust.
Ministers have also revealed that a payout of £360,000 went to Stephen Singleton, former medical director of NHS North East. He was then appointed cluster medical director for NHS North of England, part of the new NHS England body.
Speaking in the House of Commons, Dr Poulter said that the number of people re-hired was a small proportion of NHS staff.
He said: “Since May 2010 and up to December 2013, 4,050 staff across the whole NHS have been re-employed in the NHS following redundancy.
This covers all staff grades, not just managers, and is a tiny proportion of the total NHS work force of currently around 1.2m.”
And he blamed Labour for the size of redundancy payouts, saying they were negotiated by the previous government. “We have been lumbered with their redundancy terms,” he said.
North West Durham MP Pat Glass asked: “Some time ago, the Prime Minister promised to stop the revolving door in the NHS and recover payments from those staff who had got huge payments and come back, sometimes to the same job.
“How is that going? How many people and how much money?”
Dr Poulter said: “I think this is an own goal from the Opposition. They set the redundancy terms in 2006, when the shadow Secretary of State was a minister in the department.
“They have allowed extraordinary, eye-watering redundancy payments to be made, particularly to managers.
“That is to the disadvantage of front-line staff and patients.
“It is why we are currently in negotiations with the unions to ensure that we improve redundancy terms, stop those eye-watering payments and have more money to care for patients.”