People were shocked when they heard of the news of a golden handshake to city's health boss Chris Town on an uprecedented scale. It was a 480,000 pounds pay off by the cash strapped NHS.
The Peterborough Primary Care Trust (PCT), which is responsible for family doctors, dentists and community health, gave the big redundancy package to Chris Town, who was turned down for the chief executive's job.
Mr. Town, who had been acting chief of the Cambridgeshire PCT, also failed to get the coveted job at the top of that organization.
This change came in the wake of a major shake up in the health services last year. The shakes up saw Peterborough PCT replace the Greater Peterborough Primary Care Partnership (GPPCP), which was made up of two trusts covering the north and south of the city.
The Government plan was for East and South Cambridgeshire, Huntingdon and Peterborough Pacts to merge into one giant body and Mr. Town was seconded to oversee that merger. But, Peterborough PCT successfully fought to remain independent, as they did not want to be merged with the other trusts which were encumbered with millions in debt.
This left the other three to become the new Cambridgeshire PCT, with Mr. Town as acting chief executive. But Mr. Town lost the position when Chris Banks, from the Peterborough and Stamford Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust was appointed. So NHS gave him the golden handshake as he failed to land the top job.
A spokesman for Cambridgeshire PCT said: "Chris Town was made
Redundant as part of the organizational change process put in place to manage the reduction in the number of PCTs."
"His redundancy pay was in line with the NHS redundancy scheme in place during the restructuring programme.
"Mr. Town was employed by Peterborough PCT, not Cambridgeshire PCT, hence it was responsible for the payment of redundancy benefits."
The city MP Stewart Jackson said: "I'm surprised and disappointed that such a large sum of money has been paid out to one individual. The Strategic Health Authority has some tough questions to answer. This is a consequence of a botched re-organization, and entirely bureaucratic. It's a lot of cash when you consider that it could have been used for frontline services."
Mr. Town had been working with the NHS for the past 35 years and he was eligible for early retirement and entitled for the settlement.
The 2007/2008 budget for Peterborough PCT is Â£250 million, including Â£32 million contributed by Peterborough City Council for adult social care.