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NHS financial watchdog pays consultancy firm £500,000 to define its 'purpose' in a move branded 'scandalous' by critics

  • NHS Improvement hired McKinsey on the lucrative contract earlier this month
  • The firm will aim to clarify the watchdog’s ‘purpose and operating model’
  • Critics described the spend as ‘scandalous’ when the NHS is in a cash crisis

The NHS financial watchdog paid half a million pounds to a consultancy firm to define its ‘purpose’.

NHS Improvement – which oversees hospital spending – hired McKinsey on the lucrative contract earlier this month.

The firm will aim to clarify the watchdog’s ‘purpose and operating model’ by speaking to hospital chief executives.

Critics described the spend as ‘scandalous’ at a time when the NHS is facing an unprecedented cash crisis.

The NHS financial watchdog paid half a million pounds to a consultancy firm to define its ‘purpose’

The NHS financial watchdog paid half a million pounds to a consultancy firm to define its ‘purpose’

Only two years ago the watchdog paid £630,000 to another consultancy firm KPMG to help define its ‘organisational structure.’

And in November it admitted is new boss Ian Dalton would be on a salary of £300,000 a year – double that of the Prime Minister.

The details of the contract with McKinsey were leaked to the Health Service Journal.

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘This is an alarming sum of money being handed to a management consultant firm at a time of profound pressure on NHS finances.

‘The ballooning costs of consultancy fees is entirely unacceptable, especially given the scandalous findings recently that management consultants are in many cases making the NHS less efficient.

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘This is an alarming sum of money being handed to a management consultant firm at a time of profound pressure on NHS finances'

Jonathan Ashworth MP, Labour’s Shadow Health Secretary, said: ‘This is an alarming sum of money being handed to a management consultant firm at a time of profound pressure on NHS finances'

John O’Connell, chief executive at the TaxPayers’ Alliance: ‘Public sector managers justify high spending on management consultants as a means of saving money and improving services in the long run, but there is limited evidence that they really do.

‘If taxpayers are to carry on spending hundreds of thousands in salaries for NHS top brass, they should be able to run these trusts without expensive outside help.’

NHS Improvement’s role is to scrutinise hospital spending and help clampdown on unnecessary waste.

Only last month it published figures showing hospitals had amassed £1.2 billion of debts, partly through hiring expensive agency staff.

A spokesman from NHS Improvement said McKinsey had been hired ‘to look at and challenge our operating model.’

‘The NHS is facing the challenge of delivering services as efficiently as possible at the same time as meeting the growing demand from an ageing population. The way we as NHS Improvement operate has to change to support trusts meet that challenge. As a learning organisation, we are also well aware that there are things we could do better.’ 

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Journalist, writer and broadcaster, based in London and Paris, her latest book is Touché: A French Woman's Take on the English. Read more articles from Agnes.

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