£400,000 hospital 'art attack'
Bosses at a hospital where more than £400,000 has been spent on art have been criticised by a group which campaigns for better use of public money.
The TaxPayers' Alliance said the decision to spend £421,000 on art at a new wing of Broomfield Hospital in Chelmsford, Essex, was "staggering".
Hospital managers defended the decision, saying the art would help patients and enhance the atmosphere.
The wing has been funded by cash from a private firm which a health authority must repay over a number of years.
Bosses said the art was commissioned as part of the development contract.
"We have to question whether it's necessary or indeed appropriate to be spending thousands commissioning art given the current financial climate," said a Taxpayers' Alliance spokeswoman.
"Though art might create a nice environment for patients, this is a staggering price tag.
"The hospital could easily have invited contributions from local artists or schools which needn't have cost a penny and would have had the added bonus of being a source of pride for those selected."
A hospital spokeswoman said: "The (art) project aims to contribute to the overall aim of providing excellence and effective models of care, by enhancing the environment for everyone who uses the hospital and helping to reduce stress, speed up recovery and aid the healing process."
Simon Burns, Conservative MP for Chelmsford, added: "I am looking into this and I will be talking to the (health authority) to get to the bottom of it."