NHS consultancy costs soar20th May 2009
NHS spending on management consultants has risen three-fold in the last two years.
GP magazine Pulse gathered information from 62 of the 152 NHS trusts in England responsible for managing local services and discovered that average spending on consultancy fees had risen from £361,000 in 2006/07 to more than £1.2m last year.
Primary care trusts (PCTs) say the spending has been on supporting such initiatives as polyclinics, IT issues and monitoring performance.
The main firms used were McKiney, PricewaterhouseCoopers and Tribal Consulting.
But Dr Chaand Nagpaul of the British Medical Association said: "It is extremely concerning that such large sums are being spent on management consultants in the absence of any evidence of their effectiveness."
Tower Hamlets PCT in London topped the spending table having paid out £5.7m in fees last year - eight times more than it did two years previously.
However, the trust defended the figure, saying it had helped improve diabetes training and led to more flexible GP opening hours.
And the NHS Alliance, which represents PCTs, said it was wrong to assume that spending on consultants was always a waste of money.
Spokesman Michael Sobanja said: "It makes sense to buy in expertise when it is needed rather than employing people all year round. The figures may seem high, but many of these organisations are operating with budgets of £500m. It has to be seen in context."
The Department of Health said individual NHS organisations decide how best to invest their resources to ensure local people get the best care and services.
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