Hospital inspectors visiting Lancashire spent more than £50,000 on hotels, travel and meals, an investigation has found.
Teams from the Care Quality Commission (CQC) spent £4.4m on travel and subsistence in 2014/15 against budget of £1.1m as they visited hospitals across the country.
They last longer so that more time can be spent in observing the care that is being delivered
The CQC said the overspend was due to the fact the budget was based on a previous, ‘lighter touch’ inspection regime.
The figures, obtained under the Freedom of Information Act by the Health Service Journal (HSJ) show that up to £80,000 was spent on accommodation during a single inspection.
In some cases, more than 100 inspectors attended one visit. In total, £921,279.98 was spent on hotels in 2014/15 for 36 inspections.
The biggest spending was for Dorset Healthcare University Foundation Trust, where 118 inspectors were accommodated at two hotels over five days for £80,837.
Hotel spend was more than £50,000 for four other inspections: Imperial College Healthcare Trust, Hertfordshire Partnership University Foundation Trust, King’s College Hospitals Foundation Trust, and Lancashire Care Foundation Trust.
A statement from the CQC said: “As CQC regulates health and adult social care services across England, it is necessary for its inspection teams to have to travel and, on occasion, to stay in overnight accommodation.
“CQC’s ‘new-style’ inspections involve larger teams, including specialist inspectors, experts in the field, and members of the public who represent the views of people who use services.
“They last longer so that more time can be spent in observing the care that is being delivered, in speaking to both people who use services and health and social care professionals, and in feeding back initial findings to the providers so that improvements can be made quickly. We are constantly improving how we work, and we are committed to being an efficient and effective regulator.”