David Cameron took financier Lex Greensill for a private drink with Health Secretary Matt Hancock to discuss an app later offered within the NHS, Sky News has confirmed.
The Treasury also reconsidered an application from Mr Greensill for an emergency coronavirus loan after Mr Cameron – who was prime minister between 2010 and 2016 – messaged one of Boris Johnson’s senior advisers, The Sunday Times reported.
It is understood that Number 10 forwarded an email, sent by Mr Cameron, to the Treasury and had no further involvement with Greensill Capital.
The developments are the latest in a lobbying controversy that has dogged Mr Cameron in recent weeks, with questions mounting over his efforts to secure access for the finance company.
The firm later collapsed, putting thousands of UK steelmaking jobs at risk.
Mr Cameron worked as an adviser for Greensill Capital after leaving Downing Street. He is yet to comment publicly on what Labour has called a "growing scandal".
Mr Greensill is understood to have written to Mr Hancock’s office about a payment scheme in August 2019, reportedly copying in NHS England chairman Lord Prior.
In his communication, Mr Greensill set out proposals to give the NHS access to an app his company had devised called Earnd.
Mr Hancock commissioned advice from officials, and he, Mr Cameron and Mr Greensill had a drink in October 2019.
The idea was to pay doctors and nurses either daily or weekly.
Civil servants advised that the "principle" of the idea was "good", Sky News understands.
But sources said Mr Hancock wanted other suppliers to be able to offer the same work and that it should be free to staff and the taxpayer. He also apparently said it would be up to local NHS managers to decide whether to sign up to it.
Sources said Wagestream also offered its services and that following the "private drink", Mr Hancock was still insisting on the conditions above.
In October last year NHS SBS – a joint venture between the Department of Health and Social Care and a French IT firm – announced that Earnd would be available free-of-charge to NHS employees to access their pay.
Mr Hancock had referred Mr Greensill to work directly with the NHS rather than his department, according to an ally, who insisted the final decision to use the scheme was for local NHS employers.
"Matt acted in entirely the correct way – he updated officials on the business that was discussed, as is appropriate," the friend said.
Mr Cameron is yet to comment but a source close to him said: "David Cameron was an enthusiastic champion of Greensill’s pay product, Earnd, and met with various people to discuss its rollout across the NHS."
A DHSC spokesman said: "The wellbeing of NHS staff is the top priority of the department and 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."
Labour has called for an investigation and for Chancellor Rishi Sunak to respond to the "growing scandal".
Shadow chief secretary to the treasury Bridget Phillipson said: "Every day brings fresh revelations about the culture of cronyism at the heart of this Conservative government.
"Through David Cameron, Greensill looks to have had the run of government from Number 10 down, including access to millions of pounds of public money."
Labour MP Dame Margaret Hodge, a former chair of the Commons Public Accounts Committee, said: "We need an independent inquiry immediately. The whole scandal stinks."