DOCTORS who are taking over responsibility of the NHS budget in Wiltshire have justified spending up to £200,000 on refurbishing their headquarters.

The GP led Wiltshire Clinical Commissioning Group replaces NHS Wiltshire on March 31 under the Government’s health reforms.

The CCG is going to be based at Southgate House in Pans Lane, Devizes, currently the headquarters of NHS Wiltshire and an NHS building since 1994.

Another new NHS organisation, the Central Southern Commissioning Support Service, will be based at Southgate House.

Over the last few weeks Southgate House has been redecorated with new carpets, repainted walls, a revamped reception area and new security doors.

An NHS Wiltshire employee said staff in Southgate House were surprised at the redecoration work.

“As the PCT we knew that if we spent any money on redecoration we would be likely to be criticised for it because it’s public money,” the employee said.

“The offices in Southgate House were shabby, they were no lap of luxury. You wouldn’t think twice about redecorating if you were in the private sector, but our priority was always on spending the money in the right areas and paying off the massive debt we inherited.”

Dr Steve Rowlands, the chairman of Wiltshire CCG and medical director of NHS Wiltshire, said Southgate House has not been decorated or refurbished since 1994.

He said new doors and security system would allow good wheelchair access.

Dr Rowlands, who is a GP at the Bradford Road Surgery in Trowbridge, said: “The current Primary Care Trust on behalf of the future tenants of the building decided to undertake the essential work using spare PCT resource in advance of the demise of the old organisation.

“The decision was taken that while the building was being reconfigured to provide suitable working space for these organisations, the opportunity would also be taken to refurbish the entire building.

“A maximum of £200,000 was allocated for the decorating of the entire building. With 29,000sq ft this is the equivalent of £6.90 a square metre. This money wasallocated by the PCT to be used on building maintenance.”