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News Shopper reveals hotel bills of debt-ridden hospital

The News Shopper has revealed how a debt-ridden hospital spent more than £2,500 on “away days” for staff just a few miles from its own facilities, despite its fragile financial position.

The Newsquest title got an anonymous tip off that Queen Elizabeth Hospital in Woolwich was spending money on holding meetings at hotels rather in its own conferencing rooms, and was able to confirm the rumour after submitting a Freedom of Information request.

It found that the hospital, which is nearly £20m in debt, spent £784 holding an away day for IT staff at the Clarendon Hotel, Blackheath, which is just 2.5 miles away.

Its invesigations also revealed hospital bosses had spent £1,465 for venues for two further meetings, with senior managers twice thrashing out the hospital’s financial plans at the Holiday Inn in Bexley, which is just 7.5 miles away.

Reporter Glenn Ebrey said: “It just goes to show what a powerful tool FOI can be for reporters.

“Most of the time we are here to report on current events but it is also very satisfying to develop a good story through your own groundwork and then see it come to fruition.”

The hospital told the News Shopper that none of the money spent on the away days came from the budget set aside for patient care, and that staff needed to get away from the distractions and disruptions of being on site.