Monday, 15 March 2010
NHS wastes £487m on consultants
"The Department of Health has spent £478million on management consultants and accountants over the last five years, figures reveal today. That works out at more than £260,000 a day, including weekends. It is the equivalent of the annual salaries of around 17,000 nurses. The spending splurge will shock taxpayers and infuriate cancer sufferers whose life could be extended if they were given drugs which are rejected as too expensive.
The winners are well-paid consultancy firms such as Accenture, Pricewaterhouse Coopers, Deloitte, McKinsey and Ernst & Young. Individual consultants and accountants can earn up to £1,000 an hour.
Between April last year and January 31, the Department spent nearly £44million. By the end of the tax year next month, the bill will be even higher.
LibDem Treasury spokesman Lord Oakeshott accused the department yesterday of having 'a long-term consultancy addiction problem'. And it is the smallest amount they have spent in any of the last five tax years. In 2005-06 they spent nearly £198million.
He said: 'They must get a grip and kick their consultancy habit now. 'For any organisation, spending vast sums on consultants year in and year out is a sure sign of spineless management. Managers are paid to manage, not carry on consulting.'
The figures are revealed just weeks after Labour pledged to halve its spending on consultants by the 2012/13 tax year. Yesterday the Health Department insisted that the consultants' work is vital. A spokesman said: 'As a Department with complex responsibilities, we require a multi-skilled workforce. 'Where there are gaps in this resource we seek short-term expert consultancy support. Work is being undertaken as part of the engagement of firms to ensure that, where appropriate, skills are transferred from consultants to the Department.'