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Managers use consultants to ‘cover their backs’, claims minister

By Nigel Praities

Health minister Mike O'Brien has criticised senior NHS managers for ‘covering their backs' by employing expensive management consultants to make difficult decisions.

The assault on PCT use of management consultants– made during an evidence session with the House of Common's Health Committee earlier this month – comes after the NHS Confederation warned that PCT spending on management consultants would have to be halved to meet the requirements of the Government's operating framework.

A Pulse investigation last year caused concern after it showed PCT spending on management consultants had more than tripled in the past two years, with PCTs now spending an average of £1.217m each year.

Mr O'Brien said: ‘I am concerned about the expenditure on management consultants by PCTs. Frankly, some of it is senior mangers covering their backs. They get in, they have to make a difficult decision, and rather than make it, as they are paid to do, some of them are getting in some management consultants to look at it, paying these management consultants a lot of money, in order to protect the chief executive's back.'

‘That should not be happening. It should not be happening anywhere in the health service. People are paid money in order to make sometimes difficult decisions and they should make them without the back-up of some management consultant looking at it all,' he told the committee.

Health minister Mike O'Brien said PCTs use management consultants to ‘cover their backs'