Leicester doctors' £40k trip to look at care in the US funded by taxpayer
Up to a dozen doctors and top health officials from the city could be heading on a £40,000 five-day trip to look at the American health care system.
The taxpayer-funded trip, pencilled in for the summer, could look at ways of improving the links between GP and hospital services.
It is being considered by the Leicester City clinical commissioning group (CCG), which takes on responsibility for running local health services from April 1.
In a proposal considered in a private session of the CCG on Tuesday, it was suggested the party of 10 to 12 people could be made up of senior management team members and GPs sitting on the CCG board, as well as two clinical directors from Leicester's hospitals, the hospitals' chief executive and CCG officer Simon Freeman.
Business Cards From Only £10.95 Delivered www.myprint-247.co.ukView details
Our heavyweight cards have FREE UV silk coating, FREE next day delivery & VAT included. Choose from 1000's of pre-designed templates or upload your own artwork. Orders dispatched within 24hrs.
Terms: Visit our site for more products: Business Cards, Compliment Slips, Letterheads, Leaflets, Postcards, Posters & much more. All items are free next day delivery. www.myprint-247.co.uk
Contact: 01858 468192
Valid until: Sunday, June 30 2013
Papers seen by the Leicester Mercury show the trip, from June 16 to 21, is being planned by outside consultant Dick Stockford, who has "arranged many such visits from the UK before".
The suggested itinerary begins in Minneapolis/St Paul – described as being "most like the British system" – before moving on to Boston, which is described as "the centre of innovation in the USA, set in a competitive environment where quality and delivery really count".
The party would then move on to New York where there is said to be "a lot of learning and innovation". The proposal added: "The opportunities for discussion, reflections and learning will be significant.
"Although the availability of sightseeing will be limited, you would be able to extend your visit either before or after the programme."
Objectives for the visit are still to be set and approved by the CCG board.
Costs will also have to be finalised before final board approval for the trip.
In addition, a report on the trip and points learned will have to be submitted to the CCG board within six weeks of the participants' return.
David Gorrod, from the Leicester Mercury Patients' Panel, set up as a local health watchdog, said: "I think it is astonishing the CCG should even be considering the expense of such a large sum, particularly in the present economic circumstances.
"It would be seen as a jolly at the public's expense."
Matthew Sinclair, chief executive of the TaxPayers' Alliance, said: "Medical staff need to keep up-to-date with their training but flying a cohort of doctors Stateside looks like a waste of money at a time when NHS budgets are stretched.
"The commissioning group needs to show this trip will provide taxpayers with value and isn't just an excuse for a taxpayer-funded jaunt across the pond."
A spokesman for the CCG said: "This was a draft proposal discussed by our governing body. No final decision has been made and the governing body has asked for more detailed work to be undertaken to evaluate the potential benefits of any trip to the local health system."
USA study visit: Draft itinerary
Sunday, June 16: Arrive in Minneaplois/St Paul for 6pm briefing at hotel.
Monday and Tuesday, June 17 and 18: Visit a variety of health care providers.
Tuesday, June 18: Evening flight to Boston.
Wednesday, June 19: Visit and meet health care providers in Boston.
Thursday, June 20: Travel by train to New York, arriving in time for dinner with local health care professionals.
Friday, June 21: Morning visit to health care providers in New York, before catching evening flight back to the UK.