Health boss given £3,500 plane seat to help him sleep

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THE chief executive of an NHS trust in East Yorkshire spent more than £3,500 of taxpayers’ money flying club class to India as part of a Government-backed management course.

Christopher Long, the £130,000-a-year chief executive of NHS Hull Primary Care Trust, flew in British Airways’ executive seats to Mumbai in January 2008 as part of the Government-led Top Management Programme.

The training course is specifically designed for high-flying civil servants and public sector and charity bosses.

The cost of the return flight to the taxpayer was £3,572.

Headed up by the Cabinet Office and organised by the National School of Government, the four-week training course includes a week-long foreign segment which is held in an “emerging economy.”

Its aim is to give participants the opportunity “to look at extraordinary leadership in unlikely places.”

The event’s programme notes say the course fees cover meals and accommodation but that each participant “will need to fund and organise their travel... to the respective international location.”

In a statement, Hull PCT said Mr Long had been “advised” to fly club class on the trip to ensure he was not so tired when he arrived in India that he could not gain the maximum possible benefit from taking part in the course.

A spokeswoman for the trust said: “In 2008, NHS Hull’s chief executive, Christopher Long, was invited to participate in the Cabinet Office Top Management Programme.

“This programme is aimed at the most senior public and private sector executives and includes an international module.

“On this occasion, the international module consisted of a week in Mumbai, India.

“Due to the intensive nature of the module, participants were advised to fly club class to ensure they were able to get the maximum benefit from the trip.”