Nice defends credit card spending

Messenger Newspapers: Nice says  1,147 spent at John Lewis was on computer equipment
Nice says 1,147 spent at John Lewis was on computer equipment

The body which decides which drugs can be used by the NHS has defended reports that it spent £115,000 on luxury hotels and champagne bars.

The National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) said the money spent using taxpayer-funded credit cards was instead spent on business with all expenditure subject to strict approval.

A spokesman for Nice said that claims it spent £3,346 at Searcy's champagne bars was inaccurate as the money was spent on room hire, not champagne. As well running bars, Searcy's also hires out venues and manages room hire at the Royal College of GPs and the Commonwealth Club where Nice has held some meetings.

He said that reports that Nice, a non-departmental public body of the Department of Health, went on a £1,147 spree at John Lewis could be explained by the fact the department store offered the best deal on computer equipment that was needed, while £522.89 spent at the five-star Ritz Carlton in Osaka, Japan, was for when a senior representative was part of a delegation to the country.

More than £600 spent in a store specialising in bar equipment and bottle openers went on jugs, glasses and coffee flasks for meetings and events while £624 on a website for home and garden equipment paid for storage cupboards, he said.

Nice chief executive Sir Andrew Dillon said: "Nice has not spent money in champagne bars and the hotels used outside the UK were selected on the basis of the business requirements of the work involved.

"The small number of official credit cards used by senior members of staff at Nice are used exclusively for business purposes and are subject to strict guidelines.

"Expenditure is checked and approved and is subject to internal and external audit. Our travel, expenses and hospitality policies are set at levels which are consistent with other public bodies and along with the details of the expenditure, are open to public scrutiny. We provide appropriate access to the expenditure incurred, via our website and in response to requests.

" We use the public money entrusted to us carefully, not just because of our responsibility to advise the NHS on the effective and cost effective use of treatments, but because it's rightly what we are expected to do."

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