The Health Service Executive has described claims that it spent nearly €300m on staff transport costs in the last three years as 'misleading'.

The HSE said that most of the costs were incurred in the primary and community care areas. Most money went to travel and subsistence costs for public health nurses, home help and community services to patients.

The executive also said that after measures taken this year, corporate travel is now prohibited except for emergency cases, and that all travel and subsistence has stopped this year except in the case of the delivery of clinical services.

Figures supplied to Fine Gael health spokesperson Dr James Reilly, in a written reply to a parliamentary question, show that €292m has been spent on HSE transport costs since 2005.

Dr Reilly said that while some expenditure on staff transport was necessary, spending €300m in three years was completely indefensible.