Suffolk: Ambulance chief Anthony Marsh claimed on expenses almost £5,000 for stays at luxury hotels
PUBLISHED: 13:44 29 August 2014 | UPDATED: 13:44 29 August 2014
East Anglia's under-fire ambulance service boss faced fresh criticism last night after it emerged he claimed almost £5,000 in expenses for hotels this year.
Anthony Marsh, chief executive of both the East of England and West Midlands ambulance, submitted claims worth up to £188 a night for luxury overnight accommodation.
It comes just weeks after his £232,000 salary was condemned as “obscene” by health minister and Central Suffolk and North Ipswich MP Dan Poulter.
Mr Marsh took on the part-time role as head of the troubled East of England Ambulance Service (EEAS) in January.
He works three days a week for the EEAS and two days a week for the West Midlands Ambulance Service, in a combined role which increased his salary by £50,000.
Figures unveiled under Freedom of Information laws showed that Mr Marsh’s hotel bill was £4,839.72 from January 1 to August 20 this year.
There were 39 separate claims, covering 50 nights.
The cheapest was £70. However, it cost the taxpayer £188 for Mr Marsh to spend a night at the luxury Hotel du Vin & Bistro in Cambridge city centre on May 18. Less than two miles away is a Travelodge, offering rooms from £73 a night. Mr Marsh also claimed £99 for staying at the Mercure Norwich Hotel. A nearby Premier Inn offers rooms at £39.
He also stayed at the Belstead Brook in Ipswich for £85.36. Rooms at the new Premier Inn at Ipswich’s Waterfront start at £29.
It was confirmed earlier this month that Mr Marsh uses a taxi to take him from his west Midlands home to the ambulance headquarters in Cambridgeshire, with the weekly £400 fare paid on expenses.
Yesterday Dia Chakravarty, political director at the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: “There’s no excuse for anyone to be running up these obscene expenses, let alone someone on more than £230,000 a year.
“Taxpayers will be furious that their money is being used for luxury hotels and chauffeur-driven cars, rather than being spent on front-line healthcare.
“He should be forced to justify every one of these unnecessarily expensive car rides and hotel stays or pay the money back.”
But a spokesman for the EEAS said: “Mr Marsh is currently running two ambulance trusts; he does not receive the salary of two chief executives saving the taxpayer approximately £130,000. By comparison, within the same two areas, there are 11 chief fire officers and 10 chief constables.
“Like every ambulance chief executive, Mr Marsh spends time in London meeting MPs, stakeholders, health officials and working on national projects. As he is representing two ambulance services, this work is being delivered more effectively and efficiently for the taxpayer.
“Mr Marsh works several days a week in the east of England.
“It would not make sense to have him travel down on a daily basis and therefore requires accommodation.
“This is governed by NHS guidelines and the lowest accommodation cost is always sought. Mr Marsh is often driven between the West Midlands and East of England.
“This allows him to continue working throughout the journey once again bringing value for the taxpayer.”