Management consultant bill14th September 2006
The Conservatives have claimed that spending on managers is detracting from clinical services; the NHS in England is set to spend £172m this year on external management consultants, which is a rise of 83% in two years.
Grant Shapps, the Welwyn Hatfield MP, used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain figures from 76% of NHS trusts. The ensuing report said trusts' spending on management consultants was increasing, and that the use of consultants was a "reliable yardstick" for job losses and debts. The report showed that £93.8 million was spent in 2004/05 on external consultants, rising to £117.9 million in 2005/06. The projected spend for 2006/07 is £171.6 million. The figures were calculated using the data returned from trusts, and projections for the remainder.
Mr Shapps said he was dubious as to "how much effect these consultants are having", adding that 'the government needs to look at whether taxpayers were getting value for money when jobs and services were being cut and wards closed'.
Ten of the worst trusts had millions of pounds of debt, said the report, yet had a projected spend each of between £1.9 million and £3.6 million on consultants for 2006/07.
Dr Paul Miller, chairman of the BMA’s consultants’ committee, said this was further evidence of the NHS wasting money and the excessive spending on external help should be stopped. He said: “The extraordinary sums of money being spent by the NHS on management consultants, who don’t have the answers, is costing the NHS dearly." He added that “The NHS needs good management and managers who involve those that know about patients and the NHS", rather than management consultants "parachuted in from outside".
The Department of Health said it could not comment on the figures in the report because there were no details of what kind of services were included in the costs. A spokeswoman denied that there was a link between deficits and the use of management consultants and said independent evaluation had found "no common cause" for deficits.
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