NHS staff drive fleet of taxpayer funded luxury cars
An NHS quango has provided its staff with a £1 million fleet of luxury cars, including a BMW convertible, an Audi TT and three Range Rover Evoques.National Procurement, a branch of the NHS National Services Division, arranged for staff who are deemed to be “regular users” of cars for business to get the cars through a taxpayer backed vehicle leasing scheme.
The role of National Procurement, which is funded by the Scottish Government, is to buy medical supplies for the NHS, and to “increase savings” for the health service.
Figures provided by National Procurement in response to a Freedom of Information request showed that 40 employees, or one in eight members of staff, had used the 4x4s and convertibles to drive to work.
Much of the insurance, petrol, road tax and leasing is also funded by the state.
The total value of cars leased since the programme began in October 2008 is £971,000. The NHS pays for the vehicles through monthly rental charges rather than buying them outright.
One employee was leased a £27,000 Mercedes, while three other workers have been driving £23,000 S-line Audi A3 sports cars. Another employee received a £28,300 Audi TT.
Since the beginning of this year, five new cars have been leased to staff, including a four-door BMW worth more than £30,500. Other leased vehicles include another Audi sports car worth more than £25,000 and three Range Rover Evoques costing up to £29,500.
As of April, staff have had to clock up a minimum of 5000 business miles during office hours to qualify for the scheme.
Staff also have access to 13 pool cars, including four Toyota Prius hybrids and a BMW.
A department source told the Herald newspaper that some members of staff were using their leased cars for 80-mile round trips between National Procurement’s two offices, in Larkhall, Lanarkshire, and South Gyle in Edinburgh, even though there are adequate video conferencing facilities at both locations.
The source said: “It’s a disgrace that staff are being allowed these cars just for travelling between the two National Procurement sites, especially when there is a company pool car available which is hardly used, or they could use public transport.”
Labour’s health spokesman Jackie Baillie MSP said the NHS was subsidising staff to drive executive cars.
She said: “The NHS in Scotland is suffering from severe pressures and it seems that officials have no proper sense of financial priorities.”
“Staff who are in genuine need of transport to do their jobs is one thing, but these are status symbols for managers whose jobs are predominantly desk-based.”
Tags: National Health Service, NHS, nhs cash shortages, Quangos