NHS bosses have approved spending of up to £42 million on management consultants – despite evidence that they make matters worse.
The controversial splurge – enough to pay the base salaries of more than 1,500 nurses for a year – is intended to give NHS managers a fresh perspective on how to cut soaring waiting lists.
But critics last night condemned the move. John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance, said: ‘Big accountancy firms and consultancies can add value and save taxpayers’ money in the long run, but the danger is that the NHS and its quangos do not pursue best value for money themselves and instead become too reliant on these firms.
‘In light of the 1.25 percentage point rise in National Insurance this April, it is imperative that all NHS bodies root out waste and ensure that improved efficiency can be done in-house.’
Under the terms of the deal, seven management consultancies, including McKinsey & Company, KPMG and Deloitte, will be paid for providing ‘short-term analytical and planning support’ to 42 new health authorities across England called Integrated Care Systems (ICS) .
The ICSs, which cover sub-regional areas such as Greater Manchester, have been tasked with providing ‘joined up’ health and social care.
NHS England is handing each of them £500,000 to spend on management consultants in February and March and they will be able to access a further £500,000 for consultants between April and September, according to the Health Service Journal.
A recent study by the universities of Bristol, York and Seville into NHS Trusts that used management consultants found that far from improving matters, they tended to become less efficient over time.
Ian Kirkpatrick, of York University, said that while the study did not show consultants ‘can’t provide value’, it ‘suggested they are not adding much value in aggregate’.
Last night NHS England said: ‘NHS teams in every part of the country continue to pull out all the stops to provide as many non-urgent tests, checks and treatments as possible to those people who need them, with priority given to those in the greatest clinical need and those who have been waiting longest.
‘To support those teams to go further and faster, short-term analytical and planning support from existing approved suppliers will be made available for local areas to use as needed.’