A controversial shake-up of the NHS cost the Westcountry's health service nearly £10 million in redundancy payouts, with one executive walking away with a bumper £450,000 settlement.
At a time of scything cuts across the board, the Western Morning News can reveal details of the eye-watering golden-goodbyes in which ten health bosses in the region pocketed payouts of more than £200,000.
Meanwhile, another nine received severance deals of between £150,000 and £200,000.
Former Health Minister Ben Bradshaw, Labour MP for Exeter, condemned the "scandalous" payouts at a time when A&Es face crisis, and blamed the coalition Government's "unnecessary" NHS reorganisation.
Graham Webster, chairman of the campaign group Health Initiative Cornwall, said the deals were "nothing short of outrageous."
He added: "This money has come from the public purse. It would have been better spent in hospitals or providing healthcare."
Details of the payouts were disclosed in just-published annual reports for the South West regional authority and local health trusts for 2012-13, just before the bodies were scrapped this spring.
They reveal a £450,000 "golden goodbye" handed to Sir Ian Carruthers on leaving his post as chief executive of the abolished South West Strategic Health Authority (SHA).
In a statement, a spokesman for Sir Ian told the WMN the amount was "factual and it was a redundancy payment. Any work he has done for the NHS since redundancy is in an advisory capacity and has been unremunerated".
Director of workforce development at the same authority, Sue Webb, was given severance of around £290,000.
The WMN was unable to contact Mrs Webb.
However a spokesman for NHS England confirmed the figure was accurate and that Mrs Webb had received her "contractual entitlement".
He said she had not worked for NHS England since accepting the payout.
Five other senior members of staff at the SHA were lined up for redundancy pay-offs of up to £20,000, however they did not collect the money after accepting new posts within the health service.
The SHA and six primary care trusts (PCT) in the region between them dished out redundancy payments of more than £200,000 to ten bosses.
A further nine pocketed between £150,000 and £200,000.
While the SHA discloses what amounts named senior managers received in redundancy packages, the PCT accounts only give anonymous details of how many people received different quantities of cash.
The row over generous pay-offs exploded at Prime Minister's Questions last week when Labour leader Ed Miliband criticised the Prime Minister's "botched reorganisation" for "giving P45s to nurses and six-figure pay-offs to managers".
He claimed – citing a written parliamentary question – that more than 2,000 people have been made redundant and rehired, which is "diverting money from the frontline as you sack nurses".
But Mr Cameron pointed out that there are 20,000 fewer administrative-grade employees in the NHS.
Mr Cameron said: "We are saving £4.5 billion by reducing the number of managers in our NHS and for the first time anyone re-employed has to pay back part of the money they were given.
"That never happened under Labour."
Labour's Mr Bradshaw said last night: "This is exactly what we warned would happen as a result of the Government's botched and unnecessary upheaval of the NHS.
"It is scandalous, with money so tight, waiting times rising and A&E under such pressure for so much money to have been wasted on a massive re-organisation nobody voted for. It will take the next Labour Government to save the NHS again."
But Health Minister Dr Dan Poulter has previously hit back at the suggestions, saying the coalition Government was having to foot a big one-off bill to "dismantle Labour's bloated bureaucracy".
A spokesman for NHS England said: "The payments referred to were made by the strategic health authority which ceased to exist from March 31, 2013, and would have been governed by contractual agreements.
"Neither Sir Ian Carruthers nor Sue Webb are employed by NHS England."
PAYOUTS BY NHS TRUSTThe South West Strategic Health Authority offered 17 exit packages – totalling £2 million – but five were not taken up. The pay-offs to former Devon Primary Care Trust (PCT) senior managers totalled £3.1 million in 2012/13. There were 36 deals, including: Two packages worth more than £200,000.Five between £150,000 and 200,000.Three between £100,000 and 150,000.Twelve between £50,000 and 100,000.Somerset PCT issued 14 exit packages costing £1.7 million, including: Three worth more than £200,000. Two between £150,000 and 200,000.Two between £100,000 and 150,000.Three between £50,000 and 100,000.At the former Cornwall PCT, a total of £896,000 in termination benefits were agreed with nine staff, including: One exit package worth more than £200,000.Two between £150,000 and 200,000.Three between £50,000 and 100,000.Plymouth PCT paid out eight exit packages costing £887,000, including: One package worth more than £200,000.Three between £100,000 and 150,000.Three between £50,000 and 100,000.Dorset PCT paid out £660,000 to 19 managers, including:One exit package worth more than £200,000.Two between £50,000 and 100,000.At Torbay PCT, 14 exit packages were disclosed costing £570,000, including: Seven packages worth between £50,000 and £100,000.The PCTs have been replaced by GP-led clinical commissioning groups.