WHEN will public sector bosses like hospital chief executive Phil Morley realise that they have an obligation to spend taxpayers’ money wisely at all times? This is the question which goes to the heart of reports that the former head of Hull and East Yorkshire Hospitals NHS Trust spent £50,000 on his NHS credit card on fine dining, luxury hotels and more mundane matters like a £281.43 Waitrose bill and £17.88 at bakery chain Greggs.
Even though the Trust stresses that there is “no suggestion of fraudulent activity” and that “all transactions” received “the necessary approvals at the time”, it is significant that the organisation has now reduced its number of credit cards to just two – and that future expenditure requires authorisation from the chairman, chief executive and chief finance officer. It suggests that procedures relating to corporate governance were not sufficiently robust.
The context of these revelations, and their timing, is also important and cannot be overlooked. Mr Morley was the executive whose previous claim to fame was an impression of Superman which went viral on the internet before he resigned prior to the publication of a damning Care Quality Commission report into the management of Hull Royal Infirmary and Castle Hill Hospital.
Yet, despite the report highlighting a “bullying culture”, there is incredulity from Hull North MP Diana Johnson – and others – that he was rewarded with a new role in Essex, when Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt had promised to end the revolving door culture which enabled senior executives to move from one role to another without being held to account for shortcomings on their previous watch. Mr Hunt says NHS trusts can now check the prior records of executives on a database updated by the CQC. It is another step in the right direction – even if Mr Morley’s record in Yorkshire continues to leave many questions unanswered.
Tory realism or Labour largesse?
YVETTE Cooper says the political dividing lines on crime policy are clear. “We will support neighbourhood policing whilst the Tories seek to undermine it,” declared the Shadow Home Secretary as she launched Labour’s summer offensive.
Unfortunately there was just one omission from the Pontefract and Castleford MP’s speech – the cost. Even though Ms Cooper’s husband, Ed Balls, is the Shadow Chancellor, Labour’s lack of clarity on the cost of its wishlist will not stand up to scrutiny in a court of law. It is also at odds with the record of the coalition which has cut crime and delivered efficiency savings.
Of course, people would like to see more officers patrolling the streets of Yorkshire. Who wouldn’t? Yet, at the same time, it is also fanciful to hark back to TV dramas like Dixon of Dock Green, or Heartbeat, which glamorised community policing.
Back then, the emphasis was on local policing because the majority of offences could be classified as petty crime.
Now constabularies have to work together because criminals do not respect artificial force boundaries. And then there is the advent of the internet and computer-related crime which has put additional strains on the resources of police forces. Is Ms Cooper seriously suggesting that community patrols should take precedence over the work of those officers who are trying to identify those paedophiles who are using the internet to peddle child pornography or other degrading material?
As such, this speech smacks of the opportunism that Labour leader Ed Miliband condemned last Friday when he called for a maturer approach to politics.
The next stage
Winning cycling’s legacy race
THE history books will show that the 101st Tour de France was won by Vincenzo Nibali, the brilliant Italian who did not look back after snatching the yellow jersey with an inspired climb up the Sheffield street that will always be known as the Côte de Jenkin Road.
Yet this will always be remembered as Yorkshire’s Tour after the county staged an unforgettable Grand Départ which saw upwards of five million people lining the region’s roads to cheer the peloton and watch the biggest sporting event ever staged in this county.
It also bodes well for the future that hotels are reporting an upsurge in bookings from cyclists who want to explore the county after being inspired by the stunning scenery which was broadcast to a global audience.
With each passing day, the decision to bring the Tour to Yorkshire, ahead of Scotland where the Commonwealth Games is now in full swing, is looking more and more inspired from a tourism perspective.