NHS boss claims £14,000 in expenses in three months

The head of the NHS in England, Sir David Nicholson, claimed almost £14,000 in travel and food expenses in the first three months of this year, official records show.

Sir David Nicholson has previously defended his use of first-class rail travel
Sir David Nicholson has previously defended his use of first-class rail travel

Data released by the DH reveal how the chief executive of NHS England, whose ‘Nicholson Challenge’ to find £20bn in efficiency savings has been blamed for cuts to frontline services, claimed £13,765.26 for attending meetings and visits between January and March 2013.

The cost included a claim of £614.90 for an internal meeting in Leeds, where NHS England’s head office is based, as well as several rail fares over £300.

The cost to taxpayers of Sir David’s official government car was £4,212.50 for the three-month period.

Sir David was quizzed by MPs on the Public Affairs Committee in March after the Daily Mail reported that he claimed almost £50,000 in expenses in 2012 on top of a reported £200,000 salary.

The Daily Mail reported that claims included ‘41 first-class trips to visit his wife and baby’.

The paper reported that Sir David told MPs that the first-class travel was necessary to do his job. ‘To do that job I had to travel a lot around the country and spent two or three nights away from home,' he said at the time.

'It was simply impossible for me to do, without being able to work during that period, get value out of my time. The only way I could guarantee that is to have first-class travel. I have been open and transparent about it. My employers completely understand why I do it.’

The top NHS civil servant announced in May he would retire next year following intense criticism and calls to resign over his role in the Mid Staffs affair.

A DH spokeswoman said: 'In 2012-13 Sir David Nicholson was, at the same time, the Chief Executive of the NHS, the largest employer in Europe, and the NHS Commissioning Board. Both of these are national, public roles and involve extensive travel across England.

'Therefore, David worked out of three offices - one in the North (Leeds), one in the Midlands (Birmingham) and one in the South (London). This arrangement helped to reduce travel and associated costs, both for people meeting David and for David himself.

'David's employment arrangements were agreed with the DH and Cabinet Office. All travel and overnight stays were booked in advance wherever possible to minimise costs. Travel by car may be used for journeys at short notice, during anti-social hours, where confidential calls are needed to be made or to locations not easily accessible by train.

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