Health Secretary denies squandering £44,000 of public funds
JEREMY HUNT yesterday poo-pooed reports that he had flushed away £44,000 of taxpayers’ money on a swish private bathroom installed at the Department of Health for him to perform his ablutions at his convenience.
Reports suggested that the bathroom, which includes a designer toilet and power shower, had been authorised by Mr Hunt for the department’s new offices in south London.
But Mr Hunt took to social media to say the story was “totally false.”
He tweeted: “False it was for my own use. My cycle to work only 10 mins so no need to ‘freshen up,’ as story elegantly says. But let’s encourage cyclists!”
Keep Our NHS Public spokesman Alan Taman told the Star: “Providing adequate sanitation for everyone used to be regarded as a public duty for government.
“It is a sad reflection of the state public services are now in that speculation over whether an opulent bathroom was commissioned for one person commands more attention than the hundreds of people daily who are suffering in pain and squalor through cuts as they wait longer and longer for their ‘elective’ treatments in ever-diminishing stocks of decent housing.
“I really don’t care whether Mr Hunt authorised this expense. I care greatly that he personally has overseen the dismantling of the NHS, nursing bursaries abandoned, and increasing numbers of people left waiting in pain for their treatment.
“Their lives, hopes and ambitions have been flushed down the toilet in the name of austerity. The costs of that are immeasurable.”
The Department of Health was unable to give any details about the bathroom suite, but a spokeswoman said: “The Health Secretary has not approved any costs relating to the department’s new building but has requested facilities for all cyclists and runners in line with those the department currently has.”
The lavish spending comes as the health service faces £22 billion of cuts by 2020 under NHS England’s axe-wielding so-called sustainability and transformation plans.
And last week Labour accused the Tories of a “fire sale” of NHS land and property under accelerated plans to plug the huge hole in NHS finances.
The government-supported Naylor Review recommends that NHS land and assets deemed “surplus” to requirements be flogged off to generate £10 billion for the cash-strapped health service.
Critics say the scheme will permanently reduce the capacity of the service, opening further doors to privateers and prompting a bonanza for developers and speculators.