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NHS Digital paid management consultants £1.2m for advice on GP IT overhaul

NHS Digital has paid management consultants £1.2m to assist with its overhaul of GP IT systems, due next year.

McKinsey & Company was paid to carry out ‘strategy, engagement and procurement’ work on NHS Digital’s plans to launch a new GP IT systems framework in the summer.

The plans were announced in August with the launch of a contract tender worth £450m and could see GP practices forced to switch patient record IT providers.

GP leaders described the expenditure as 'extraordinary and unwarranted', adding that it is a 'kick in the teeth to frontline NHS workers' struggling with limited NHS resources.

According to board papers published earlier this month, NHS Digital is forecasting a £21.7m overspend in its ‘professional fees’ expenditures category, partly due an overspend against the so-called ‘GPIT Futures programme’.

The papers explained that ‘overspends are forecast within… GPIT Futures (£1.5m) to support [the] McKinsey work’.

However, NHS Digital clarified that the management consultant fees are one element of an overall reported overspend and £1.15m has been paid to McKinsey and Company so far.

The new IT provider panel, which is set to replace the current GP Systems of Choice, will only allow providers who support ‘integrated care organisations’ and provide patient record systems that can be shared across different multi-disciplinary NHS services.

NHS Digital’s director for primary and social care technology Nic Fox said it ‘regularly works with industry partners with expertise in delivering ambitious and large-scale projects’.

He added: ‘McKinsey are working with us on strategy, engagement and procurement.’

Family Doctor Association chairman Dr Peter Swinyard said the money 'looks like an extraordinary and unwarranted expenditure' on management consultants.

BMA GP Committee contract and regulation policy lead Dr Robert Morley added that it was 'an absolute disgrace and a further kick in the teeth to frontline NHS workers struggling to do their best for patients in the face of inadequate resources and increasingly impossible workloads'.  

He added: 'Throwing huge amounts of money away like this yet again will do nothing to benefit anybody but the management consultants that receive it.'

GP leaders had previously warned that attempts to overhaul GP IT systems ‘will be a huge undertaking’ and urged NHS Digital to ‘carefully consider the potential impact on practices’.

This comes after Pulse revealed last year that health and social care bosses spent £21m on management consultants to help draw up plans to overhaul regional NHS services.

McKinsey & Company declined to comment.

Readers' comments (11)

  • Nhsfatcat

    Doing the same thing again and expecting different results is excellent (for the management consultants) Pulse 2025: 'Management consultants paid 3.4million for GP IT consultation'

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  • McKinsey are the firm who reckoned that GP consultations should be cut to 6 minutes about 4 years ago, if my memory serves me correctly. Clearly they are well known for their incisive and scholarly work on planet Zog which bears little or nor relationship to the real world. It is great that NHS England is supporting interplanetary exploration but as usual demonstrate a lack of capability when working in reality.

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  • New headline: Management Consultants laughing all the way to their bank.
    The greatest sadness is that this £1.2m would not be available for those who really needed it for real healthcare needs.
    The Strawbs got it right from their prophetic album many years ago:Grave New World!

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  • Its not the consultants' fault for profiteering. Its the managers' fault for paying them. The fundamental flaw with socialist policies is it's always easier to spend other people's money i.e, irresponsibly.

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  • This isn't just a simple financial kick in the teeth, it's a complete dereliction of duty and a rubbishing of all the considerable, detailed, and longstanding IT expertise available on primary care. Bear in mind if you will that of all the areas of medicine, primary care is by far the best in its use of IT - in come cases by about 15 years. So where was the consultation with the leading representatives of primary care, and primary care informaticians? Was there any at all? With the BMA, with the User Groups, with the PHCSUG, with the Faculty of Clinical Informatics, with the CCIO and CIO networks?

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  • Ha!

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  • And I'm sure those management consultants had more than a 2% pay rise this year.

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  • Managers at the top who don’t trust the clinicians so pay external managers instead. External managers are accountants rebranded straight out of university and paid handsomely for it.
    What can possibly go wrong?

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  • Our local CCG paid management consultants millions just to take notes. All the ideas came from GPs who spent valuable time and did not even get lunch. The NHS needs privatising to stop the waste.

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  • managers bring in management consultants either because they want to share/delegate blame for any bad decisions, because they want someone to do their dirty work for them, or because they don't want the people affected (in this case GPs) to have any say in the outcomes.

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  • IT is the way forward to siphon money out of NHS - still waiting for the WiFi to start functioning in my waiting room so people can come and play games. Installed months ago, nobody is allowed to use it - not even staff. Who was that meant to be for? Ah, for the cozy IT companies, I see.

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