CASH-STRAPPED health bosses have been criticised for spending almost £300 on a hotel meeting less than two miles from their offices.

Oxfordshire Clinical Commissioning Group (OCCG) managers will this morning hold a strategy development meeting at the three-star Hawkwell House Hotel in Iffley Village.

It will take place just 1.7 miles from its Oxford Business Park South offices, at a cost of £295.

Bosses said the meeting was being held at too short notice to use its own offices, which include a large meeting room used for board meetings.

But the news comes as the group responsible for deciding where most NHS cash goes, warns it is facing a multi-million pound overspend this year.

TaxPayers’ Alliance campaign director Robert Oxley said: “NHS meetings and away days should make use of existing resources rather than costly hotels just down the road. Every penny spent on conference facilities means less money for patient care and a bigger bill for taxpayers.”

An OCCG spokesman said the meeting, with about 15 people in attendance, would be held to discuss its plan for 2014 to 2019, which has to be submitted to NHS England by February 14.

He said: “The meeting had to be arranged at short notice, which is why it is offsite. The preference is always to arrange meetings onsite whenever possible.

But he added: “It is not uncommon to hold meetings offsite if we do not have space available.”

At the OCCG board meeting on Thursday, members referred to the meeting as an “away day”. But the spokesman said: “It is a three-hour meeting rather than an away day. It will cost £295, which includes costs for equipment, tea and coffee.”

Interim chief executive Ian Wilson last week said OCCG’s hoped surplus of £2.4m is set to be a £5.9m deficit at the end of the financial year.

Last week, he said a beds shortage may mean OAPs won’t be able to transfer from main hospitals to the community hospital of their choice.

He said: “The whole health and social care system of Oxfordshire is in some difficulty.”