NHS cash row grows

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Andrew Foster, the controller of the Audit Commission, may be called before MPs to explain "improper" payments he approved when general manager of the former Yorkshire regional health authority, writes Nicholas Timmins.

The ultra vires salary advance and relocation package were made in 1989 to Keith McLean, on his appointment as finance director for the region, a post he held before succeeding Mr Foster and becoming subject to fierce criticism for his stewardship in a report 10 days ago.

Mr Foster said that the payments had been the decision of the region. But at a hearing of the Public Accounts Committee yesterday, Alan Williams, the Labour MP, claimed Mr Foster had agreed to "modifications" of the normal National Health Service terms.