Northern Ireland health trust trips to be reviewed after Caitlyn Jenner revelation
Auditors are to review staff travel at all Northern Ireland's health trusts after one organisation took 61 officials to a conference in the Netherlands which featured US transgender celebrity Caitlyn Jenner.
The Department of Health ordered the widescale review across the entire health and social care system to ensure all travel was justified and in line with a 2016 directive that it would be above public criticism.
It comes after the Belfast Trust was told to explain its sending of staff to the three-day International Forum on Quality and Safety in Healthcare in Amsterdam. Around 100 health workers from across Northern Ireland travelled to the conference.
The Belfast Trust - the largest in Northern Ireland - sent 61.
It cost the trust £85,000 in flights, accommodation and tickets to the conference - which themselves cost between £1,000 and £1,300. The trust said "cost effective" tickets were booked in every case.
Caitlyn Jenner, previously known as Olympic athlete Bruce Jenner and star of MTV'S Keeping Up with the Kardashians, was due to speak on issues of transgender medicine.
The Belfast Trust said staff from across its departments travelled and their attendance would "equip staff with skills, ideas and contacts to make improvements to services".
"It will offer staff a tremendous amount of education, learning and ideas which may be adopted in Belfast to improve how we deliver services," the trust said in its defence.
It's thought the South Eastern Health Trust sent 17 people, the Western Trust 14 staff, the Northern Trust sent nine, and the Southern Trust three.
The day before staff were to depart the Department of Health contacted all health trusts asking if the trip was "effective and proportionate" in line with a 2016 directive.
That emphasised that all travel must "be fully justified in terms of making an important contribution to the business needs of the organisation; represent value for money; and not give grounds for public criticism".
Following each health trust's response the department has ordered a review into all medical staff travel.