Consultants cost the NHS '10,000 nurses'

24 August 2010

24 August 2010 | Angeline Albert    

The NHS in England spent £313 million on management consultants last year, according to research conducted for the Department of Health.

The study, carried out by Jenny Jackson, special adviser to health secretary Andrew Lansley, examined what Primary Care Trusts (PCTs) and Strategic Health Authorities (SHAs) spent on management consultants in 2009-10, and found it to be equivalent to the salary of almost 10,000 nurses.

Lansley said PCTs and SHAs must reduce management costs by 46 per cent over the next four years following a revision of the NHS Operating Framework last June.

He said: “I am staggered by the scale of the expenditure on management consultants in the NHS. Even at a time when it became clear that the nation’s borrowing was out of control, Labour allowed wasteful spending to blossom.”

Cutting spending on consultants would root out unnecessary bureaucracy and any expensive duplication of functions, he said. He gave no insight, however, into whether any of the consultants provided value for money for their services.

The research found that, across the country, consultancy services expenditure virtually equalled that spent on skin and lung cancer services combined.

In London alone, PCTs and SHAs spent more than £114 million on management consultants.  The biggest spender was Camden PCT which paid £12.2 million in last financial year, up from only £1.9 million in 2007-08. Spending varied greatly between PCTs, with Bournemouth and Poole PCT spending just £63,000 last year.

Jackson said: “People in commissioning roles are commissioning out work to external management consultants. This is causing a duplication of work, which they should be doing themselves.”

Lansley added: “Every penny saved will be reinvested in improving patient care, meeting demand and driving up quality.”

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