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NHS spends £300m on consulting

A report from the MCA reveals that health service spending on management consultancy hit £300m in 2008

The NHS spent £300m on management consultants in 2008, according to a report from the Management Consultancies Association (MCA) entitled, Improving Care, Reducing Cost.

Figures in the report have further fuelled the ongoing debate on healthcare spending in the UK – many critics believe that taxpayers money should fund only front-line staff and procedures in the NHS and should not be spent on management, outsourced or otherwise.

According to the report NHS spending on management consultants was just 0.3 per cent of total healthcare expenditure in 2008 – in many cases using management consultants has helped the health service to make savings, the report states. In addition, it says that:

  • The amount spent on consultancy by the NHS per employee is roughly one tenth of that spent by large companies in the private sector
  • Most spending on consultancy is associated with significant programmes which lead to improved patient care and greater efficiency.

    "Management consultancy has recently been caught in the cross-fire of the arguments between supporters of reform in the NHS and their opponents,” said Alan Leaman, chief executive of the MCA. "This report sets out the down-to-earth and essential work that the vast majority of management consultants are doing – and the benefits that they bring."

    The use of management consultants to boost efficiency and effectiveness in the NHS has been lambasted by leading figures in healthcare. Dr Peter Carter of the RCN described expenditure on consulting as "utterly shocking".

    "Those who attack the use of management consultants by the NHS are undermining efforts to increase efficiency and improve patient care," said Leaman. "The public rightly demands high-quality services and value for money. Those who attack the role of management consultants would deny them both."

    In the report, in which member companies through detailed research explore what type of activities consultancies undertake in the NHS, the MCA proposes further improvements to the health service, including a call for greater distinction between consultancy and the use of interim staff, together with an increased focus on the outcomes of consulting projects and the addition of more performance-led contracts.

    The Common's Health Select Committee has recommended that the government compile a preferred supplier list of management consultants – a move the MCA supports.


  • 16th September 2009

    From: Healthcare


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