Health chiefs spend �7K a month on teas and lunches

THEY'VE done it again. As the squeeze on public sector spending tightens amid the deepest recession in decades, The NHS has found another way to waste our money.

Naomi Gornall

THEY'VE done it again.

As the squeeze on public sector spending tightens amid the deepest recession in decades, The NHS has found another way to waste our money.

While one branch of the organisation spent half a million pounds on farmland for staff at their new headquarters, another department has splashed out more than �300,000 on refreshments since 2006.


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The figures, which equate to more than �215 a day, were obtained under the Freedom of Information Act.

They reveal that bosses sanctioned:

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- The spending of �168,000 on tea and coffee

- Nearly �150,000 on lunches.

The strategic health authority (SHA) claims refreshments are provided for the 1,700 people who visit its headquarters in Cambridgeshire to attend meetings.

The figures reveal that the average total cost of teas and coffees per month is �3,509, and the average cost of lunches per month is �3,109.

This compares to the starting salary of a registered nurse which is �20,710.

Ben Gummer, the Conservative parliamentary candidate for Ipswich, said: “If we didn't know the SHA better, these figures would be unbelievable.

“Ipswich people and the amazing staff of Ipswich Hospital will rightly be appalled.

“They have seen budgets eroded and vital services removed - yet regional bureaucrats are able to spend nearly �7,000 per month on tea, coffee and lunches.

“In the grand scheme of things these are small amounts of money. Yet on its o wn, this expenditure on refreshments at head office could pay for 15 nurses in our local hospital.”

Today's revelations follow the outrage surrounding NHS Suffolk's decision to spend half-a-million pounds on farmland for free staff parking - despite the economic downturn. The SH A had the power to question the expenditure but chose not to.

A spokesman for the SHA said: “NHS East of England provides strategic leadership and support to the local NHS.

“This work involves hosting a large number of regional meetings for clinicians, partners and senior managers of our trusts, to discuss and drive forward the strategic vision and goals of the NHS in the east of England.

“We endeavour at all times to keep the cost of refreshments low at all meetings, with tea or coffee and sandwiches where necessary due to the length or time of the meeting. Our policy is not to provide catering for internal meetings, only for those attended by people who have to travel to the building from other parts of the region.

“We have made clear progress across the region on the issues that matter to patients, including waiting times and access to health screening.”

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