London hospital defends putting patients in top hotels
A London NHS Trust has defended its use of taxpayers' money to put cancer patients up in a four-star hotel.
University College London Hospitals (UCLH) uses the Grafton Hotel at a cost of £120-a-night because it is cheaper than 24-hour hospital care.
UCLH said it provided an "outstanding and cost effective service".
But The Taxpayers' Alliance lobby group said the NHS needed to examine why it was so expensive to put someone up on an NHS hospital ward.
Patients with cancer and blood disorders who require daily treatment but do not need 24-hour care are eligible for the hotel stay.
According to UCLH the cost of keeping a patient in a hospital bed overnight is in excess of £300.
Several years ago the hospital trust decided to treat patients by day before transferring them to a "relatively good quality" hotel overnight.
A UCLH statement said the "vast majority" of its patients used the four star Grafton Hotel in Tottenham Court Road.
"This is because it is the closest and most convenient, has adapted its rooms to rapidly connect with hospital staff if necessary and we have negotiated an excellent rate of £120 a night."
It said patients were "unanimously in favour of it as providing a better service than the alternative of hospital admission" and had allowed them to "significantly" increase the number of patients they treat.
UCHL added that it was also looking at building its own patient hotel to make the service even more cost effective.
The Grafton Hotel's website boasts that the rooms are ergonomically designed to provide guests with a comfortable environment.
It says there are "sleek furnishings, marble bathrooms and crisp linen add to the luxurious experience".
Fiona McEvoy, of The Taxpayers' Alliance, said she found it "astonishing that it costs more to put people up in a bed on a ward on the NHS than in a flash hotel in central London".
She said: "It's important that the pounds works for taxpayers and for patients and I think where possible they could put people up in a real decent standard of hotel without breaking the bank.
"Yes the NHS are doing great work trying to put people up and cut the cost to the taxpayer and that we can applaud, but I do think more needs be done to look at why it is so expensive to keep someone in an NHS ward."