A troubled NHS trust has paid millions of pounds to companies owned by associates of its embattled chief executive, BBC News has learned.
One firm received more than £5m despite winning a contract valued at less than £300,000, while another was paid more than £500,000 without bidding at all.
Both are owned by acquaintances of Southern Health NHS Trust’s chief executive Katrina Percy.
The trust said it took its financial responsibilities “very seriously”.
The BBC has also learned Southern Health has access to the services of former Labour spin doctor Alistair Campbell, after it hired Portland Communications to help with its ongoing problems.
Mental health trust Southern Health has been under intense scrutiny since an NHS England-commissioned report in December found it failed to investigate the unexpected deaths of hundreds of patients.
A failure of leadership and governance at the trust was blamed for the problems, a conclusion a subsequent CQC report in April agreed with.
In light of the criticisms, Katrina Percy, the only chief executive the trust has ever had, has faced widespread calls to resign but has refused to do so.
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