A HOSPITAL governor who resigned from the NHS in protest against a £1m payment to grit roads has expressed outrage that the scheme may go nationwide.

It follows an endorsement of the controversial scheme by Transport Minister Sadiq Khan, who said that other parts of the country could learn from County Durham.

In November, Kath Toward resigned as a hospital governor after NHS County Durham gave the cash to Durham County Council in an attempt to reduce the number of people treated after slipping on icy roads and pavements.

Mrs Toward, who cares for a disabled husband, feels that the money would be much better spent on services to patients.

Her resignation from the County Durham and Darlington NHS Foundation Trust attracted nationwide headlines, but on Thursday Mr Khan appeared to call for the idea to be taken up around the country.

Asked in the House of Commons by Croydon MP Andrew Pelling whether he would “look positively” at the Durham approach in a bid to reduce hospital admissions, he replied: “I am happy to listen to good ideas. I would be keen to consider whether the Department of Health and Department for Transport can work better together and whether lessons can be learned from Durham that can be used in London and other parts of the country.”

Last night, Mrs Toward was outraged at the prospect of other health authorities in the country raiding their coffers to help local councils grit the roads.

“If the Transport Minister is saying this, every county council in the country will ask the local health authority to provide money to grit the roads. This could cost the NHS an absolute fortune when the money could be much better spent on services,” she said.

Considering this winter’s severity and the amount of gritting, Mrs Toward said the £500,000 of grit given to the council this year was “just a drop in the ocean”.

Mrs Toward said the money given to the council could have been used to increase the amount of respite care available to carers and partners of people with chronic health problems.

“They have altered the criteria and you now have to be practically dead to qualify. It is absolutely dire,” she said.

A spokeswoman for NHS County Durham said: “We are delighted that our innovative approach to using non-recurring monies has been recognised in parliament.”

She said it would not be possible to measure whether the extra gritting had had any impact on accidents until February at the earliest and stressed that the gritting allocation can been a one-off payment.