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NHS spends £21m on consultancy advice on how to cut costs

Exclusive Health and social care bosses across England have spent £21m on management consultants to help draw up plans to overhaul regional NHS services.

A Pulse investigation, based on Freedom of Information request to all 44 ‘Sustainability and Transformation Partnership’ (STP) regions, found that some areas have spent millions of pounds on external consultants to help them draw up the plans, which in many cases involve cutting frontline services.

Local GP leaders said these sums were ‘difficult to justify’ when money was being removed from frontline services.

The plans were first announced in December 2015, with the aim of making £22bn worth of cuts to the health services by 2020/21.

Pulse’s investigation has revealed managers have been spending NHS money on private consultancy firms, which is being used for ‘public engagement communications’, ‘strategy analytics and modelling’ and ‘strategic workforce planning’ among other services.

Health and social care bosses across England have spent £21m on management consultants to help draw up plans to overhaul regional NHS services.

A Freedom of Information request to all 44 ‘Sustainability and Transformation Partnership’ (STP) regions found that some areas have spent millions of pounds on external consultants to help them draw up the plans, which in many cases involve cutting frontline services.

One STP – Kent and Medway – paid £3.2m to four firms, including £2.97m to Carnall Farrar for strategy, analytics, modelling and programme management.

Local GP leaders said these sums were ‘difficult to justify’ when money was being removed from frontline services.

Overall, the 19 STPs that responded said they had spent £9.17m since March 2016, when they started working on the plans. Extrapolated across the 44 STP areas in England, this comes to £21.2m.

And these figures do not include the £2.3m spent by healthcare leaders in North Central London, as revealed by the BMA in January; that STP failed to respond to this latest FOI request.

The plans were first announced in December 2015, with the aim of making £22bn worth of cuts to the health services by 2020/21. Pulse’s investigation has revealed managers have been spending NHS money on private consultancy firms, which is being used for ‘public engagement communications’, ‘strategy analytics and modelling’ and ‘strategic workforce planning’ among other services.

Dr John Allingham, a GP in Dover, described the £3.2m sum spent in Kent as ‘an eye-watering amount of money’ to spend in a region with high deprivation and ‘significant unmet needs’.

He said: ‘It is difficult to justify how we can find cash for cake when so many people have no bread.’

In Northumberland, Deloitte was paid almost £130,000 for ‘strategic financial and activity modelling’. Dr George Rae, chief executive for Newcastle and North Tyneside LMC, said the figure indicated ‘a sad state of affairs’ at a time when practices are ‘teetering on the brink’.

He said: ‘At the same time you’re getting management consultants in and giving them £129,000.’

Derbyshire LMC treasurer Dr Peter Holden, said payments to consultants were ‘not fair’. Derbyshire STP paid nearly £580,000 to GE Healthcare Finnamore, a self-described ‘one-stop consultancy firm’ for healthcare management, analytics, technology, leadership and governance.

Dr Holden said the payment was equivalent to £1,000 for every GP in the region, ‘and all they can do is close the nine community hospitals to save £32m’.

Kent and Medway, and Northamptonshire STPs separately issued almost identical statements to Pulse, saying they ‘have invested only where it has been absolutely necessary to provide capacity, skills, experience and expertise that have not been available’.

They added: ‘We are starting to design new ways of working and delivering services in partnership that will save the NHS locally millions of pounds and improve the health and wellbeing and local care needs for our residents for years to come.’

GE Healthcare Finnamore responded to a Pulse request for comment saying NHS England’s Five Year Forward View required STP member organisations ‘to work together to an unprecedented degree’ and the company has ‘a successful track record of supporting initiatives of this kind’. Carnall Farrar said its fees ‘have been scrutinised’ and are designed to ‘demonstrate best value’. Deloitte declined to comment.

How the NHS spending money on management consultancy firms

Readers' comments (12)

  • Sorry folks - but £21M ( and that is projected ), while by itself seems large, is a piffling small amount compared to total overall NHS spend - several billions. Kent and Medway £3.2M for a single local area however does seem rather a lot. My only question would be then, given this disparity, is the true spend underestimated? Need to know more about FOI responses profile to understand that.

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  • Just Your Average Joe

    Here's a saving of 21 million. Don't hire management consultants.

    A few tips for free - sack a random manager a week, and when no-one notices or cares, keep going until we have stripped out all the bean counters.

    Save money by sacking CQC and all its bureaucracy and revalidation would be another great move.

    Finally add a bye law banning ambulance chasing law suits for anyone using the NHS, and set up a compensation board that gives compensation appropriately when harm was done, without all the lawyers fees, and unnecessary indemnity hikes.

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