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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)

  • Vinci Ho

    This money was merely fuelling the technocratic machine of this government. Once the target of 22 billions 'efficiency saving' (they stopped using the word efficiency now!) was set , paying consultancies to produce report after report was procedural. In its governing mentality , NHS is just another cash-burning economic liability of an elected government. Economic liabilities needs economic solutions. The true meanings and ethos of the service can be easily swept under the carpet.
    With all due respect, these consultancies were paid to deliver a task . The biggest hypocrisy and landslide fallacy is the target of saving and hence , STPs subsequently. I always want to ask the question ,' why is it always 22 billions?' .Who is the devil( again , trying not to swear these days!) coming up with the figure in the first place ? Why was it not 20 , 21 or even 21.5 billions? Has anyone recognised even 1 billion more ( 1 billion less saving)could do to this current situation of NHS and its gatekeeper?
    I tell you what £ 1 billion could do ? It could buy a minority zombie government by forming an alliance with a Northen Ireland political party so that our prime minister can just about manage (JAM). Where did the money come from? We all know the name of the tree . In fact , logically , the target of £22 billions saving should be increased to 23 billions to compensate this . I dare this government to do that !!
    Confucius said in Analects,' a regime/ government will not stand and sustain if people cannot trust'(民無信不立). No matter how noble the telos of STPs set out to be , ask yourself in your conscience, would you trust this JAM government to deliver ?

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  • Vinci Ho

    Jon Snow, ''But when enough people make false promises , words stop meaning anything. Then there are no more answer but better and better lies. And lies won't help us in this fight.''
    Tyrion Lannister,''That is indeed a problem. The more immediate problem is that we're fu*ked''

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  • Is this the same Ruth Carnell who was Regional Chief Executive in the very recent past! "They were only playing leapfrog!" Oh What a Lovely War!!

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  • Vinci Ho

    Dame Ruth Carnall DBE (born 1956) was the last Chief Executive of NHS London before it was abolished in 2013. She was described by the Health Service Journal as one of the NHS’s most senior and respected leaders.

    She is a partner in management consultancy Carnall Farrar, the company which will deliver the “diagnostic phase” of the project.

    From Wikipedia.( Could be fake news , if you challenge!)

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  • How disgraceful to have spent £21million on further cost cutting. Just think how much posii care could have been provided with that amount of money. The consultant advisors will have been laughing all the way to their bank account!

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  • If that is true Vinci then that is an absolute disgrace. The entire problem currently is the revolving door between private companies, government and the media. All patting each other on the back. All paying each other for nothing of real value. None of them have any moral ability to declare themselves as having a vested interest. They are all in it up to their necks.

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  • I guess we should all quit and become management consultants - clearly this is where the money is. I bet they don't have to put up with CQC

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  • so all gp referrals will be peer reviewed to justify them .....

    How about all NHS management being CCG reviewed ....

    Who are these management consultants anyway and what justifies their involvement?

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  • My daughter used to work at Deloitte. Fresh out of university her time was billed out at £930 a day. What a waste of money

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  • If you were able to purge the Sutheast esp Kent and Medway, you would be able to talk of change and prove 'lessons have been learnt'. While Medway has one of the lowest funding - NHSE and CCG bosses seem to prosper and throw money on dubious projects. The do have a flair for flying hence weird pilots. Training is bought in NHS from companies with former NHS bosses on board. Reeks of corruption but you can't do anything - it's likely sanction right from the top.

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