Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt has reportedly spent £44,000 of taxpayer funds on a private bathroom for his new offices.
The minister, who recently called for £22billion of cuts to be made to the NHS by 2020, asked for the suite so he could freshen up after cycling to work, according to The Sun newspaper.
The 15ft by 8ft suite includes a designer toilet, vanity mirrors, a power shower and floor-to-ceiling lava tiles.
And modern sensor-activated lights contributed to a £11,000 bill on electrics for the suite.
But last night Mr Hunt, a multi-millionaire, said the bathroom was not for his own use and that he had asked for a shower for long distances cyclists who work in the department.
The bathroom was fitted into the Health Ministry’s new £25million headquarters, in Victoria, central London.
A source from the new HQ told The Sun: ‘It’s a disgrace that Hunt talks about the need to save money while getting the taxpayer to pay for a private bathroom fit for a king.
‘People across Britain are waiting on trolleys at hospitals because there are no beds and waiting lists are getting longer by the day.
‘How can he justify it while telling everyone else in the NHS to tighten their belts?
NHS bosses, including chief executive Simon Stevens, have been asked to make £22bn of ‘efficiency savings’ by 2020.
But Mr Hunt, 50, showed no signs of cutting costs when it came to the new bathroom.
Earlier this year he sold part of his education firm Hotcourses for an estimated £14.4m.
£4,000 was reportedly spent on design and planning for the suite, while £10,000 was spent on plumbing for the bathroom.
A further £4,000 was spent on the shower, vanity unit, wash basin and designer toilet.
And the same sum was spent on the trendy slate tiles.
The £44,000 could have funded two nurses for a year, 169 rounds of chemotherapy, or five heart bypasses.
The cost of the bathroom also amounted to the price of ten pacemakers or five heart bypass surgeries.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the Taxpayers’ Alliance said: ‘Quite why such a huge sum was spent on a building with perfectly adequate facilities will be lost on taxpayers.
‘The government consistently preaches the virtue of balancing the books, but it’s difficult to take them seriously when money is being flushed away like this.’
The health minister responded on social media when the story broke last night.
He tweeted: ‘Today’s @thesun story totally false. TRUE I requested shower for long dist cyclists in new dept health offices (as in current office)…
‘FALSE it was for my own use. My cycle 2work only 10 mins so no need 2 ‘freshen up’ as story elegantly says. But let’s encourage cyclists!’
A Department of Health spokesperson said: ‘The Health Secretary has not approved any costs relating to the department’s new building, but has requested facilities for all cyclists and runners in line with those the department currently has.’