Figures reveal Nelson-Marlborough health boss spent $22,000 on travel expenses

The spend was less than last year.
The spend was less than last year. Photo credit: Getty

By Tracy Neal of RNZ

Nelson-Marlborough Health's top boss spent just over $22,000 on flights, accommodation, meals, and airport parking in the year to June, including a $9.20 coffee with the Mayor of Tasman just hours before alert level 3 began.

The total was less than the previous year's $25,886 when overseas travel gobbled up $4522 of the budget on a seven-day trip to London.

Peter Bramley's early morning coffee catch-up with Tasman Mayor Tim King happened during alert level 2, a few hours before alert level 3 was imposed on 23 March.

Alert level 2 of a four-tiered alert level system was introduced on March 21 to try and manage COVID-19 in New Zealand.

On March 25, New Zealand moved to alert level 4, putting all of the country into a full lockdown in which only trips for essential needs were allowed, and essential workers were the only people allowed to leave home for work.

A health board spokesperson confirmed that Bramley visited Blenheim's Wairau Hospital on two occasions during alert level 4 lockdown, in his essential service role to provide management support to clinical teams and the primary health organisation clinical teams.

The visit included minor spending on meals and accommodation and Bramley also attended, by Zoom, a meeting for South Island health board chief executives.

Bramley was until recently seconded to the Canterbury/West Coast District Health Board to help with the board's transition to a new chief executive.

Peter Bramley.
Peter Bramley. Photo credit: Nelson-Marlborough Health

The expense form showed the majority of the total $22,133.59 travel expenditure went on domestic travel around New Zealand.

Just under $4000 was spent on "local" travel between Nelson and Marlborough, and a little more than $1000 was spent on overseas accommodation booked for April but cancelled because of COVID-19.

The single largest expense in the local travel budget line was $450 spent on meals for 10 people at an end-of-year event last December.

On one occasion more than $600 was spent on flights from Nelson to Auckland and Wellington, and back to Nelson in a day for a national district health board chief executives' meeting.

A similar amount was spent on flights between Nelson, Wellington, and Christchurch in March this year for a chief executives' meeting and a South Island regional boards induction day.

In the 2018-2019 financial year, $19,000 was spent on domestic travel and related expenses and more than $2000 on local expenses.

Total travel expenses the year before that was $26,639.56.