22 Nov 2020

Nelson-Marlborough Health boss spent $22k on travel expenses

12:08 pm on 22 November 2020

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.

Air NZ Q300 landing Nelson Airport, from where the company is shifting its heavy maintenance base.

On one occasion more than $600 was spent on flights from Nelson to Auckland and Wellington, and back to Nelson in a day. Photo: RNZ / Tracy Neal

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.

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

On 25 March, New Zealand moved to alert level 4, putting all of New Zealand 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 level 4 lockdown, in his essential service role to provide management support to clinical teams and the primary health organisation clinical teams.

Nelson-Marlborough Health chief executive Peter Bramley.

Nelson-Marlborough Health chief executive Peter Bramley. Photo: Nelson-Marlborough Health

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.

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 were $26,639.56.