An amount the government ‘will struggle to justify’ has been spent on employing management consultants whose job was to make cuts to NHS services and nursing staff.
In an investigation by GP magazine Pulse, health and social care bosses across England were revealed to have spent £21 million on management consultants to draw up plans to overhaul regional NHS services.
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Some sustainability and transformation partnership (STP) regions 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 government will struggle to justify this level of spending on management consultants who advise on cutting nursing staff,’ said Royal College of Nursing chief executive Janet Davies.
‘This sort of expertise should already be held within the NHS. It is a false economy when the consultants cost more than the savings they identify. Nursing staff, who have suffered a 14% real-terms cut to their pay, will find it galling to hear the sums spent on this advice.’
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Initially announced in December 2015, the plans were derived with the aim to make £22 billion in cuts to health services by 2020/21. Pulse confirmed through Freedom of Information Act requests that managers have been spending NHS money on private consultancy firms.
The firms were being used for ‘public engagement communications’, ‘strategy analytics and modelling’ and ‘strategic workforce planning’ among other services.
Out of 44 STPs, 19 responded to Pulse’s request, saying they had spent £9.17 million since March 2016. Extrapolating this data infers that a total of £21.2 million has been spent by all the STPs.
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Approaching various consultancy firms for comment, GE Healthcare Finnamore told Pulse that 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 told Pulse its fees ‘have been scrutinised’ and are designed to ‘demonstrate best value’. Deloitte declined to comment.