'Outrage at hospital trust's pay-off after spat' said The Sun, as it revealed 'debt-ridden' Eastbourne Downs primary care trust had paid off its former public health director to the tune of £250,000 after a 'spat' with a colleague.

According to The Sun, Dr Iheadi Onwukwe spent just three weeks in post before being sent home for two and a half years, 'collecting£325,000 in salary' before apparently picking up a further£243,000. It claims he was given the 'golden handshake' when the PCT was£4.6m in the red.

The red top quoted Liberal Democrat MP Norman Baker, who branded the payoff 'an incredible and grotesque waste of public money'.

The Timesalso ran the story and said the PCT's annual report showed that 'during the year the PCT paid an executive director compensation for loss of office totalling£243,000 through an agreed legal settlement'.

The Daily Mail said the payout by Eastbourne Downs PCT 'could have funded 300 cataract operations or more than 40 heart bypasses'. A spokesman for the PCT said the payment 'was agreed in accordance with NHS guidance' following legal advice.

Several papers mentioned a payout given to another chief executive in the area. Eastbourne Hospital trust chief executive Annette Sergeant was given a£231,000 package when she quit after being criticised in a Healthcare Commission report.

With all eyes on the government's handling of the NHS in a tough financial climate, The Sun offers some advice: 'Here's a job for hapless health secretary Patricia Hewitt - get that money back. It belongs to the taxpayers.'