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Government warns trusts: 'Don't overuse management consultants'

By Gareth Iacobucci

The Government has warned PCTs it will not tolerate overuse of management consultants to ‘cover the back' of trust board members.

In its response to the health select committee's report on the use of management consultants, ministers outlined plans to collect national data on overall spend on consultancy, in order to keep a close eye on spiralling levels of expenditure.

Health minister Mike O'Brien said the Government was making it clear that trusts should not be bringing in external consultants to make tough decisions for them.

Pulse revealed in May that PCT spending on external consultants has more than tripled in the past two years, from an average of £361,000 in 2006/7 to £1.217m in 2008/9.

The Government said the collection of national data, to be published for the first time in summer 2010, would improve transparency of expenditure, and allow the NHS to make more efficient use of consultants.

Speaking ahead of the Government's response at the NHS Alliance annual conference in Manchester, the health minister said it was vital that trusts make full use of their own expertise before seeking outside help.

‘The NHS must be resolute in its pursuit of value for money, making full use of its own expertise before seeking often expensive external support,' he said.

‘In response to the health select committee report, we make it clear that the department and the NHS must and will be far more open about when and where we use them and how much they cost.

‘Consultants should not be used to merely cover the back of a manager or board who are paid to make tough decisions.'

The Department of Health issued its response to the health select committee's report on management consultants today The Department of Health issued its response to the health select committee's report on management consultants today

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