NHS has paid private consultants £26MILLION to ‘review demand’ and ‘support sustainability’ as part of an ‘unacceptable’ shake-up
- More than 550 non-clinical jobs have been made at a cost of £32million a year
- British Medical Association warns money is being diverted from patient care
- Freedom of Information request was sent to NHS bodies in 44 areas of the UK
Private consultancy firms have taken £26million from the NHS as part of plans to reorganise the health service, freedom of information requests show.
The British Medical Association said the beneficiaries were some of the world’s biggest consultancy firms, such as KPMG, Deloitte, PwC, and Ernst and Young.
The BMA also said a further £32million was diverted from frontline healthcare spending to pay for more than 550 NHS jobs involved in reorganising healthcare.
The roles include more than 316 with salaries of up to £142,500 in NHS bodies and involve tasks such as ‘reviewing demand and capacity’ and ‘supporting sustainability’.
Private consultants have been paid at least £26million as part of an NHS shake-up (stock)
BMA council chairman Dr Chaand Nagpaul said it was ‘utterly unacceptable to see so much money flowing away from patient care to private consultancy firms’ at a time when health leaders have been calling for greater investment to address the current medical workforce crisis.
The BMA sent FOI requests to Sustainability and Transformation Partnerships (STPs) and Integrated Care Systems (ICS) – NHS bodies tasked with improving and healthcare in 44 local areas in England.
It obtained information from 39 of the areas covered by these bodies. It found that 11 of the 44 areas admitted to spending more than £500,000 on private firms.
The more than 550 jobs created have led to an annual salary bill of around £32million, with an expensive new cadre of senior staff being formed and 316 of the jobs attracting salaries of up to £142,500 a year.
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But the BMA said the true costs may be even bigger, owing to some STP or ICS groups failing to update previously supplied figures or not providing any information at all.
Some of the biggest-paying STPs were found to be Kent and Medway, which spent almost £8.2million on consultancy costs and created 36 job roles at a cost of £2.4million, while South East London spent almost £4.2million on consultancy costs and created 26 job roles at a cost of almost £1.7million.
Greater Manchester – a uniquely devolved area – has 104 staff delivering transformation programmes at a cost of more than £6.4million of NHS funding.
Dr Nagpaul said: ‘Given the perilous state of NHS finances and patients suffering delays for essential services it is utterly unacceptable to see so much money flowing away from patient care to private consultancy firms.
NHS IS HEADING INTO ITS ‘TOUGHEST EVER WINTER’
This year’s NHS winter crisis has already begun as hospital beds are filling up and thousands of people face long waits in A&E departments across England.
Figures released yesterday by the NHS showed things look worse than at the same time last year, which then-Health Secretary Jeremy Hunt called the ‘worst ever winter’.
Experts and senior politicians warn things will deteriorate over the Christmas period as the NHS faces up to its toughest winter yet.
In a series of damning reports, official figures revealed:
- One in 10 hospitals didn’t have a single bed free on at least one night last week
- The average bed capacity across hospitals is England is 94 per cent – way above the 85 per cent safe level
- Nearly 55,000 people were left waiting on trolleys in A&E for more than four hours in November. Of those patients, 258 were kept waiting for at least 12 hours
- One in 12 ambulances were kept waiting outside A&E for half an hour or more because there was no space inside for their patients
- Ambulances were turned away from overloaded hospitals 25 times last week and sent to nearby units
‘For many frontline staff – so used to seeing a lack of investment in workforce, equipment and buildings in their workplaces – this level of spending on private consultancy firms will be extremely difficult to comprehend.’
Dr Louise Irvine, a GP based in Lewisham, south east London, said: ‘I’m shocked to hear they are spending so much money.
‘Here in Lewisham, like many other parts of the country, we are seeing major cuts to mental health services, school nursing and district nursing.
‘We’ve had public health cuts like weight management, breastfeeding support and smoking-cessation services totalling millions of pounds. This affects my daily work – we have no one to signpost people to any more.
‘To hear this money is available to spend on this kind of thing and taken away from vital frontline care seems profoundly immoral.’
An NHS spokesperson claimed STPs and ICS are integrating care between GPs and hospitals, and referenced a recent BMA survey that suggested more than nine out of ten doctors support this move.
The spokesperson added spending on administration has gone down and is set to decrease by a further 20 per cent.
Tamzen Isacsson, chief executive of the Management Consultancies Association, said: ‘Consultants play a vital role in the public sector and according to recent research are valued by public sector leaders for the transformational impact, innovation and increased efficiency they bring.
‘They enable this to happen while vital front line services continue to operate uninterrupted.’
This comes after experts warned the extra £20.5billion a year promised to the NHS will not even cover costs unless the health service becomes more efficient.
A think-tank said last Friday the money allocated by Theresa May earlier this year may just be spent on keeping hospitals’ heads above water and paying off debts.
It was hoped the huge sum of money would improve patient care but, at current spending levels, it will not even be enough to cope with rising costs.
Staff pay rises and pensions, caring for over-75s, increasing drug prices, operating costs and hospital deficits are expected to swallow the money.
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