AN NHS manager at a health board where a bungled IT project faced a £50m overspend left with a pay-off of at least £150,000.

The unnamed executive is one of five staff at patient helpline NHS 24 who received some kind of payout when they quit the organisation in the last financial year.

Between them the five employees received settlements worth £317,646 and an undisclosed number signed a gagging clause preventing them talking openly about their time at NHS 24.

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The sums are the latest in a series of revelations about NHS 24 which provides medical advice to patients and is the first port call for people with urgent health problems when GP surgeries are shut.

A new telecommunications system, which was due to be installed almost three years ago, has repeatedly been delayed and the budget has spiralled. Serious errors were made with the original contract for the IT package with key details omitted. The system appears to have encountered a succession of technical problems and when it did launch in November it had to be withdrawn amid concern for patient safety. A review has since highlighted deficiencies in the way staff were trained to use the programme.

John Turner, NHS 24 chief executive when the IT was being developed, quit last year and it has already emerged that he received a payout of around £50,000 on departure.

HeraldScotland:

However, a request using Freedom of Information legislation has revealed that another manager received at least three times this sum on departure during the 12 months to April 2016. Three other members of staff, either employed on the frontline or in management positions, received £10,000 to £25,000 each.

Mary Scanlon,who was a Tory MSP in the last Scottish Parliament, questioned Mr Turner when he appeared before the audit committee in Holyrood to answer questions about the IT saga. She branded large pay-offs “unacceptable”.

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Ms Scanlon said: “It is time anyone taking money over and above contractual arrangements really should be hauled in front of a central committee to explain why they are wasting limited taxpayers money.”

Former Scottish Labour MSP Richard Simpson, who also probed NHS 24 about the IT project in Holyrood, questioned the nature of the confidentiality clauses signed by at least one of the staff who left with money. He said it mattered whether the gagging clauses had been included for commercial reasons or to hush up information which should be in the public domain.

He called for an independent person to oversee the use of gagging clauses in NHS severance deals. Such clauses currently require sanction from the Scottish Government.

HeraldScotland:

NHS 24 would not say how many staff who received a settlement signed a confidentiality clause last year, except that the number was fewer than five.

In a statement NHS 24 said: “There have been a number of changes in the management arrangements at NHS 24 over the past 12 months and this has included a number of senior people leaving the organisation. Two of the posts contained agreements in line with individual contractual arrangements, including one post which was deemed redundant after a management review.

“The current chief executive continues to review management arrangements to ensure that the organisation has appropriate capacity and leadership. This will support the continued delivery of high quality, safe and effective services to patients, and ensure we have the right skills in place to deliver the new technology system.”

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Jackie Baillie, Scottish Labour MSP and previously their spokeswoman on public services, said: “With the IT project at NHS 24 long overdue and much over budget people will be angry at the size of some of these pay outs - the SNP government need to get to grips with this as soon as possible.”

Other high profile pay outs to public sector managers in Scotland include college principal John Doyle who received a  £304,0000 pay-off when he retired during a college merger.