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£1.2m spent on NHS boss who left job for 3 years

Off work: Stewart Messer continued to earn despite being on leave PICTURE: SWNS

A CASH-STRAPPED NHS trust has paid out £1.25million after a senior boss was off work for nearly three years.

Stewart Messer earned £120,000 a year as a chief operating officer before he went on leave in May 2015 and eventually left for good last February.

Since his absence began, the 57-year-old has received more than £750,000 including wages, pension contributions and a £243,468 pay-off.

Worcestershire Acute Hospitals NHS Trust also spent about £500,000 on interim directors to cover him while he was absent.

The trust had a deficit of £59million in 2015/16.

The reasons behind Mr Messer’s absence for two years and nine months have not been disclosed but he claims he was never given the chance to return to work.

The trust said: ‘We have fulfilled our legal obligation to publish information regarding the remuneration of Mr Messer up until he left the employment of the trust, as well as details of all exit packages agreed during the year.

‘For legal reasons, we are unable to comment any further.’

The TaxPayers’ Alliance called the sums ‘extraordinary’.

And heart patient Jim Walker, 50, from Worcester, said it was ‘nothing short of scandalous’ for a trust in dire straits to spend so much on ‘one director who hasn’t even worked for three years’.

Interim chief operating officer Jim O’Connell was paid £90,000 in the past financial year, Inese Robotham received £195,000 and Rab McEwan was paid £200,000 to stand in for Mr Messer after he left work in 2015.