Matt Hancock met former PM David Cameron and financier Lex Greensill for a “private drink” in which the pair lobbied the health secretary to introduce a payment scheme that was later offered by the NHS.
The “private drink” took place in October 2019 and the trio were joined by Bill Crothers, the former head of government procurement who had become a director at Greensill Capital, the Sunday Times first reported.
The meeting reportedly came two months after Lex Greensill had emailed Hancock proposing a collaboration and claiming that senior NHS officials were “overwhelmingly positive” about the idea.
There are no minutes of the meeting, nor is it logged in transparency releases and civil servants did not attend.
Allies of Hancock said that following the meeting he fed the relevant information back to officials at his department and that although he was supportive of Greensill, he encouraged them to work directly with NHS trusts.
However, the following April, NHS Shares Business Services, a joint vehicle owned by the Department of Health and Social Care and a French IT firm, announced a pilot with Earnd, a payments start-up then owned by Greensill.
The scheme was later introduced to “all” NHS organisations.
An ally of the health secretary said: “Matt acted in entirely the correct way – he updated officials on the business that was discussed, as is appropriate.”
A Department for Health and Social Care spokesperson said: “The well-being of NHS staff is the top priority of the department and the health secretary.
“Our approach was and is that local NHS employers are best placed to decide how different pay flexibilities fit with their overall pay and reward offer for their staff.”
David Cameron is at the centre of a scandal surrounding collapsed Greensill Capital after allegations surfaced that Lex Greensill was given privileged access to Whitehall departments.
The former PM, who acts as an adviser to Greensill Capital, reportedly lobbied the government and the Bank of England to increase the company’s access to Covid-19 loan schemes, months before the finance company collapsed.
David Cameron has repeatedly declined to comment on the matter.