Tory illegally given two health authority jobs quits

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The Independent Online
A TORY PARTY member who was illegally appointed to chair two health authorities has resigned from one of the jobs.

Anne-Marie Nelson, 52, was invited by Virginia Bottomley, the Secretary of State for Health, to chair West Kent Health Authority and the Special Health Services Authority on a combined salary of pounds 33,000.

Mrs Bottomley said Mrs Nelson would be stepping down as chairman of West Kent. The law prohibits people from chairing two health authorities at once.

The disclosure adds weight to charges that the Government has been filling trust boards and health authorities with its supporters. However, Mrs Bottomley said the department had made an 'honest mistake' and Mrs Nelson was in 'no way at fault'.

The Government's admission of its mistake came as David Blunkett, Labour's health spokesman, estimated it had cost pounds 5m to keep the Department of Health's former offices at Elephant and Castle, London, empty since 1991. They will remain empty until 1997 at what the Government has admitted is an annual cost in maintenance and rent of pounds 813,157.

The accusation follows a disclosure that the District Auditor had censured the former Halton health authority in Cheshire for paying pounds 228,129 to underwrite the housing and removal costs of its general manager.