THREE hundred pounds – the money being spent by the Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group on hotel facilities for a meeting – may not, admittedly, be the largest sum in the world when it comes to NHS budgets.
But the expenditure, by the new organisation that determines spending on a large amount of healthcare, on a crucial ‘away day’ meeting when it has its own offices will raise questions from taxpayers.
The OCCG is holding a meeting for about 15 people at the Hawkwell House Hotel in Iffley Village to discuss its plan for the next five years, at a cost of £295.
The group, which replaced the old Oxfordshire Primary Care Trust, says it needs to get its plan into NHS England by Valentine’s Day and there is no available space at its own offices in Oxford Business Park, including the large meeting room used for most board meetings. The meeting has been arranged, a spokesman says, at short notice.
On the face of it, some of this seems plausible, but there is still a lingering worry about the OCCG’s attitude over this.
A meeting to plot forward the next five years is crucial, but surely it’s not just come out of the blue for the unsuspecting OCCG. And even if it has, surely the OCCG must be able to organise its own office affairs to free up its main meeting room?
One of the main criticisms of the NHS overall is that it is hugely wasteful with taxpayers’ money.
And while we accept that £300 is not a lot in the grand scheme of things, would OCCG staff be hiring out hotel facilities if they had to foot the bill personally rather than at a cost to the taxpayer?
The OCCG is facing its forecast £2.4m surplus turning into a £5.9m deficit.
Perhaps if it looked after the pennies then the pounds would take care of themselves?