Dismay at £4,000 health cuts conference

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HEALTH chiefs spent thousands of pounds on a meeting at a plush hotel to discuss £18m of cuts, it has been revealed.

Twenty-eight members of Bolton’s Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) travelled to a four-star Marriott Hotel for the £4,000 overnight conference on implementing budget savings, according to a report in a local newspaper..

The CCG, which is due to replace the local Primary Care Trust, defended the decision as the “best use of resources” after negotiating a discounted rate with the hotel.

But critics questioned whether the event was a fitting use of public money in times of austerity.

Speaking to the Bolton News, a member of the public who asked not to be named said the event included two buffet lunches and dinner. The source added: “Is this good use of public money, when most of them live with in easy travelling distance and NHS staff are being made redundant?”

The members of the CCG’s board and leadership team met GPs at the Worsley hotel, which is eight miles from Bolton and boasts a pool and spa.

In a statement Bolton CCG said: “In total, 28 people attended the event, which lasted from 1pm on January 31 until 1pm the following day.

“The event, held at the Marriot Hotel in Worsley, cost £4,060. This included hotel rooms for those people staying over, dinner and the conference room. Any drinks or extra refreshments were paid for by the individual attendees.

“We chose the Marriot for a number of reasons: first, it is local and with good access for those attending, yet far away enough to make sure that the day-to-day pressures of the day job could be put aside; second, it proved cheaper than other venues that we considered.

“The reason we opted for an overnight, 24-hour event, was that we felt it would allow the attendees to work very rapidly and intensively on the challenges the CCG faces.”