It has emerged that Chief executives at NHS trusts have been offered a £130,000 redundancy pay by the government if they opt resign voluntarily.

The mutually agreed resignation scheme (Mars) which is available until October, was indroduced by the government for NHS trust chief executives and senior managers. It signifies the equivalent of a year’s pay where the first £30,000 are free of tax.

As reported by the Health Service Journal, details of the offer were sent to NHS managers in a letter from the chief exevutive of the NHS East of England Strategic Health Authority, Sir Neil McKay, who oversees the move.

Under the primary care trust (PCT) chief executives could get a standard of of £137,500 while under Mars, senior level NHS managers could receive almost £100,000.

Fundraising for the payoffs is expected to come from the £1.7 billion that was ring-fenced in June for hospital redundancies and reconfigurations by the chief executive of the NHS, David Nicholson.

The offer is expected to prohibit employees who accept this severance pay from being re-employed elsewhere in the NHS soon afterwards.

But managers who wait to see what redundancy they are entitled to could claim up to two years’ pay under existing NHS contracts.

However, to minimise compulsory payouts and save money, ministers hope Mars will encourage managers to leave the NHS before they’re made redundant.

The news follows an announcement by Andrew Lansley, health secretary, earlier this year that NHS trusts would have to drop management costs by more than 46 per cent over the next four years.

Lansley also announced plans to close all 10 strategic health authorities and 152 PCTs, which will affect more than 60,000 managers.