YEP Says, January 5: Can NHS justify £7m on travel costs while we struggle to see GP?

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...and a big step in the right direction for Cameron

WHEN it comes to Leeds-based NHS England spending more than £7m of taxpayers’ cash on rail fares, flights and accommodation in just 12 months, context is everything.

At a time when many hospitals are in the red and people are struggling to get appointments with their GPs, many will see this as overly extravagant.

Yes, as the organisation points out, it has staff who are based all over England, and it is deemed necessary for them to go out to talk to patients, clinicians and others in order to carry out the work of commissioning health care.

However, in these straitened times every single organisation must look – and keep looking – at where it is spending its money, especially when it comes from the public purse.

At £1,334 for each of its employees, the bill racked up by NHS England demands greater scrutiny.

Are these costs justifiable in an age of modern technology? Is all this travel truly essential? These are the questions that must now be asked.

And while the fact that new chief executive Simon Stevens has banned staff from using first class rail travel will save some money, the question is why they were permitted to use it in the first place.

Ultimately – and not for the first time – you are left with the impression that too many public sector executives view taxpayers’ money as a bottomless pit.

A big step in the right direction for Cameron

LAST year we told the heartrending story of young Cameron Harper.

Suffering from cerebral palsy, the seven-year-old’s dream was to be able to walk.

Now his family are celebrating after discovering he will undergo an operation later this month to help him do just that.

Cameron has been told he will have specialist surgery at Leeds General Infirmary, his family having previously been told the operation was no longer routinely available on the NHS.

It’s the best possible start to 2015. We look forward to reporting on brave Cameron’s first steps.