Parliament & Politics: Tighter controls on NHS spending

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TIGHTER CONTROLS on spending by health authorities are to be announced today by Duncan Nichol, chief executive of the NHS, in the wake of the Wessex regional health authority scandal over waste of public money.

The waste of pounds 43m on a computer system that was abandoned by Wessex was criticised by the public spending watchdog, the National Audit Office, and the Commons Public Accounts Committee.

David Blunkett, Labour's health spokesman, said yesterday the increased administration costs of the system amounted to pounds 3bn. But on the eve of the Commons debate, Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health, hit back by accusing Mr Blunkett of failing to publish his alternative proposals.