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NHS trust's £10k birthday cake bill

PUBLISHED: 13:43 02 July 2019 | UPDATED: 13:52 02 July 2019

Nick Hulme has defended ESNEFT's choice to spend £10,000 of cake for their staff.  Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Nick Hulme has defended ESNEFT's choice to spend £10,000 of cake for their staff. Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

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It is a year since Ipswich and Colchester hospitals officially merged - and to celebrate staff were treated to cake.

But the NHS trust has come under fire over the £10,000 bill for the sweet treats.

The money came via a charity fund which was set up to allow patients to make a donation as a sign of their appreciation for the work that staff do.

Nick Hulme, Chief Executive of the East Suffolk and North East Essex NHS Foundation Trust (ESNEFT), admitted the trust had bought 10,000 cakes to mark the one-year anniversary since Ipswich and Colchester hospitals merged, with each cake costing around £1.

The cakes have the words "we are one" written on the top.

He said: "It's been a big year of change and lots of our staff have worked extremely hard and deserved thanks as the Trust turned one year old. We did this in several ways, which included delivering cakes all across our hospital and community sites.

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"The money had been specifically donated to Colchester and Ipswich Hospitals Charity to thank staff. We cannot spend it on anything else.

"We know that, for some, the merger has been difficult so we wanted to do something that said 'thank you' and so all staff could benefit in a small way, and that's what we've done."

A year ago, the hospitals at Ipswich and Colchester merged in a bid to help the hospitals retain and improve services and offer more to patients locally, to save cash by sharing back office functions and to tackle challenges around staffing.

Yesterday marked a year since the merger officially went through.

It is understood that several members of staff have voiced their concerns over how the money has been spent.

Mr Hulme, continued: "I have heard from some colleagues who had concerns about spending this money, but there have been many positive and grateful comments too.

"Where patients, relatives and fundraisers give to specific wards/departments, or appeals, we always honour their wishes and retain the monies in designated or restricted funds.

"Please be assured we have not used any donations that were not intended to be used for the purpose of thanking staff."

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