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Ambulance service pays out millions

By Western Daily Press  |  Posted: August 16, 2014

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A senior figure at the public body that manages ambulances in the South West was handed a generous £290,000 "golden goodbye" on being made redundant.

Critics said the pay-off was "impossible to justify" as the redundancy followed the merger of the Great Western Ambulance Service NHS Trust with South Western Ambulance Service Foundation 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 alliance.

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."

Mr Wenman said the move will result in significant savings, up to £1.5 million in the first year alone.

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."

Meanwhile South Western Ambulance Service NHS Foundation Trust (SWASFT) announced it is helping to "prepare the next generation of paramedics for life on the frontline" by donating an ambulance to Bournemouth University.

The Trust's fleet team worked with the university to find a suitable vehicle.

The former frontline ambulance became available following decommissioning.

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