More than £2million of taxpayers’ cash has been spent buying iPhones and iPads for bureaucrats in NHS quangos.
Thousands of staff at NHS England and Public Health England set up under the Coalition’s reforms to save money, have been provided with smartphones and tablet computers. The Government insists they help staff work more flexibly, but the gadgets are all for managers – not doctors and nurses.
New details of spending on technology emerged in response to a parliamentary question by shadow public health minister Luciana Berger. The published data shows that NHS England and Public Health England, both formed last year, were the biggest spenders on iPads and iPhones.
The total bill for NHS England was £1.2million and included 2,300 iPhones and more than 250 iPads, Public Health England also bought more than 2,000 iPhones in a total bill of £350,000. Other health bodies also ran up substantial bills, while the Department of Health itself has spent almost £40,000 on four iPhones and 95 iPads.
Labour MP Karl Turner said: ‘At a time when the NHS is in crisis, out-of-touch Tory ministers are splashing more than £2million on iPhones and iPads for pen-pushers.
‘Labour is promising an extra £2.5billion beyond Tory plans – which will be spent on patients, not office perks.’
The Government has been repeatedly criticised for the controversial reorganisation of the NHS, which saw primary care trusts abolished and a new network of quangos and clinical bodies set up instead. The changes were designed to reduce the number of managers and put decision-making in the hands of doctors.
It was originally claimed that the controversial shake-up, which was not included in either Coalition party’s manifesto, would save £7.7billion, but the figure was later downgraded to £6billion.
A Department of Health spokesman said: ‘Employers across the world are embracing technology such as smartphones and tablets because they allow staff to be more flexible and efficient, and in the case of the public sector provide better value for money for taxpayers.
‘Our bureaucracy-busting reforms to the NHS are saving £1.5billion a year. There are also over 13,500 more frontline staff and 7,000 fewer managers in the NHS since May 2010.’