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Ambulance chief’s luxury hotel stays ‘were the cheapest option’

PUBLISHED: 11:21 25 July 2014 | UPDATED: 11:21 25 July 2014

East Anglian Ambulance Trust CEO Anthony Marsh. Photo: Steve Adams

East Anglian Ambulance Trust CEO Anthony Marsh. Photo: Steve Adams

Ambulance trust officials have defended their chief executive after he was criticised for staying at two luxury hotels on expenses.

The East of England Ambulance Service Trust said interim chief executive Anthony Marsh sometimes needs overnight accommodation because he also heads the West Midlands Ambulance Service, and needs to work in both regions.

Earlier this week it was revealed that Dr Marsh’s pay had increased by £50,000 after he took on the East of England job, in addition to that in the Midlands, in January.

Now it has emerged he had spent three nights at Champneys spa in Henlow for £75 a time, and six nights at Letchworth Hall Hotel and Spa in Hertfordshire, at £85 a night.

West Bromwich East MP Tom Watson said the health chief’s remuneration was becoming “curiouser and curiouser”, but a spokesman for the Midlands trust said that, in comparison, accommodation and breakfast at a well-known budget business hotel in central Norwich next week cost more.

In a joint statement, the two trusts said: “Dr Marsh is currently running two ambulance trusts; he does not receive the salary of two chief executives. Whilst working in the East of England, he does require accommodation which is governed by NHS guidelines.

“On the nights in question, he did stay at Champneys at a rate of £75 a night. He arrived at around 10.30pm each evening and left by 8am the following morning and did not use any of the facilities.

“The joint role saves the taxpayer approximately £130,000 on the cost of having a substantive chief executive in each ambulance trust. In addition, the lowest cost is always sought for his overnight accommodation.”

Was this value for money? Email martin.george@archant.co.uk

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