‘An absolute disgrace’: Nine NHS chiefs spent £200,000 expenses on hotels, fine dining and taxis

Nine officials on the board of NHS England spent nearly £200,000 on hotels, meals and travel in a year, according to figures obtained using a Freedom of Information request.

Patients groups condemned the “lavish” spending variously as “ludicrous”, “an outrage” and “an absolute disgrace”.

The nine executives spent a total of £195,802 on hotels costing up to £500 a night, fine dining and transport during 2013-14, according to information obtained by The Daily Telegraph. This averages out at more than £1,800 a month each.

Tim Kelsey, the national director for patients and information, spent £46,000, including more than £21,000 on meals and hotels and nearly £7,000 on flights.

Sir David Nicholson, who recently stood down as chief executive of NHS England, spent £32,000, including £6,700 on taxis. A journey from London to Preston cost more than £500. The chief nursing officer, Jane Cummings, spent more than £27,000, including £8,000 on hotels and meals.

Katherine Murphy, chief executive of the Patients’ Association, said: “It is an absolute disgrace when patients are waiting longer for care, when frontline staff are so overloaded, and when there are such difficulties in some parts of the service, to see this scale of excess at the top of the organisation. It truly beggars belief.”

Roger Goss, of Patient Concern, said: “It’s ludicrous for the organisers of the NHS to live a lavish lifestyle while trying to persuade the rest of the health service to save billions on providing care to patients. It really is an outrage that these sorts of sums have been diverted from the taxpayer, when they were intended for patient care.”

Simon Stevens, NHS England’s new chief executive, told the Telegraph that he had banned first-class travel, effective immediately, and told staff to use public transport, not taxis, wherever possible. He took a voluntary £20,000 pay cut when he took the post last month.

“NHS England has set new standards for openness and transparency in all of its operations, compared with what went before,” he said. “And I’ve set myself and our organisation the goal in everything we do of ‘thinking like a patient, and acting like a taxpayer’.”

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