Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue criticised after surgery claim

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A fire authority has been criticised after reports its chief officer claimed £3,000 for private surgery.

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue's Mark Yates put the payment towards a £5,090 back operation, according to Freedom of Information data obtained by the Worcester News.

The Fire Brigades Union (FBU) said it made the authority look "out of touch".

But the brigade said a partial reimbursement cost less than paying somebody else to cover Mr Yates' role.

FBU branch secretary Steve Gould said: "Mark Yates earns £120,000 a year, and yet when we've asked for financial assistance to help firefighters overcome injury we've always been knocked back.

"If the brigade is serious about changing that policy now this has been exposed, then perhaps some good will come of this, but it's pretty hard to take at a time when we're facing £4m cuts and firefighters have even had their meal allowances cut."

Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Authority chairman Derek Prodger said the decision was taken when the authority was holding a detailed public consultation affecting the future of the brigade.

"As such a significant piece of work was taking place, we felt it necessary to have the chief fire officer back to work and fully fit as quickly as possible," he said.

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