A TORY MP has criticised NHS bosses’ pay and branded salaries for a south Essex mental health trust a waste of taxpayers’ money.

Speaking in the House of Commons, David Amess – MP for Southend West – backed proposals to cap redundancy payouts for top civil servants and NHS executives.

He spoke during a debate on the Queen’s Speech, during which he criticised salaries for bosses at South Essex Partnership Trust, which helps people suffering from mental health issues.

During his Commons speech, Mr Amess said: “While I am on the subject of the civil service, I should say I absolutely approve of the legislation in the Gracious Speech to crack down on the ridiculous situation in which highly-paid civil servants and NHS executives get large redundancy pay-offs before getting a similar job in the same year.

“Senior civil servants and NHS executives, such as those at the mental health foundation in the South Essex Partnership University NHS Foundation Trust, which serves my constituency, are paid far too much.

“That is a terrible waste of taxpayers’ money.”

In 2012/13, Dr Patrick Geoghegan, chief executive of the trust, earned more than £215,000. Pauline Roberts, executive medical director, earned more than £185,000 and Ray Jennings, executive chief finance officer, took home more than £150,000.

However, the trust has defended its salaries, saying they are necessary to attract quality staff.

A spokesman for the trust said: “The board of directors remuneration committee, the membership of which comprises wholly of independent nonexecutive directors of the trust, has responsibility for reviewing and setting executive and senior manager salaries.

“In setting salary levels, the committee balances the need to attract, retain and motivate directors of the required quality.

“It also ensures salaries are in line with equivalent roles in comparable foundation trusts and feels the remuneration executives receive reflects the complex and extremely challenging roles these individuals fulfil.”

The spokesman added: “As a public sector body, we continually review our spend from the public purse. When the new chief executive took up her post in September 2013, she undertook a rigorous and robust review of executive director numbers on the board.

This resulted in an overall reduction of three posts.

“We have invited Mr Amess to meet with the trust on a number of occasions, but disappointingly he has declined.

That invitation remains open.”