Paying for spin doctors

AS MAJOR NHS cuts continue to be made, a 10-strong communications team within the health service has managed to hang onto an annual budget of £735,000. MP for Hertfordshire North East, Oliver Heald, used the Freedom of Information Act to disclose the fina

AS MAJOR NHS cuts continue to be made, a 10-strong communications team within the health service has managed to hang onto an annual budget of £735,000.

MP for Hertfordshire North East, Oliver Heald, used the Freedom of Information Act to disclose the financial position of the East of England Strategic Health Authority.

He was prompted to take action after reading an article in The Comet revealing that the SHA were willing to pay a salary of more than £90,000 to a director of communications.

Mr Heald said: "I think the public should know that at a time when they are making doctors and nurses redundant they are bringing in the spin doctors.


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"This is an enormous level of expenditure if you think that all the Trusts in the East of England each have their own communications team.

"I think many hard pressed taxpayers will not regard this as a high priority over doctors and nurses.

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"It shows no awareness of the public's priorities."

A spokesman for the SHA said: "The NHS East of England was formed on July 1 2006, following a merger of Essex, Bedfordshire & Hertfordshire and Norfolk, Suffolk & Cambridgeshire SHAs.

"The budget of £735,000 is an amalgamation of the three budgets for the previous SHAs.

"A new budget for the East of England communications team will be set in March 2007 for the new financial year.

"The communications team at the SHA plays an important part in the work of the NHS and works closely with colleagues in NHS organisations across the region.

"Our work is divided between patient and public involvement, supporting the modernisation and reform of the NHS, media handling and providing information to our stakeholders and the public.

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