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Consultancy Costs

Volume 554: debated on Tuesday 27 November 2012

The amount spent by strategic health authorities, primary care trusts and NHS trusts on consultancy services in the financial years 2010-11 and 2011-12 was £291 million and £278 million respectively—a 39% fall in expenditure, compared to the last year of the previous Administration.

In 2010 the former Secretary of State said he was

“staggered by the scale of the expenditure on management consultants”.

However, in the past year alone foundation trusts have increased their spend on consultancy by 25% and NHS trusts have increased their spend by 13%. Is the new Secretary of State just as staggered?

With respect to the hon. Gentleman, a 39% fall in consultancy expenditure compared to the last year of the previous Administration is something that we are rather proud of. If he wants to know what the Health Secretary is directly responsible for, direct Department of Health expenditure on consultancy in the past year was £3 million. In the last year of the previous Government it was £108 million.

Has my right hon. Friend made any recent assessment of the total efficiency savings achieved in the NHS over the past two years under the Nicholson challenge?

We are making good progress on the Nicholson challenge. This year we expect to save £5.8 billion under that important programme to improve efficiency in the NHS so that we can treat more people.

The Secretary of State cannot have it both ways. Is he aware that in the past year alone Monitor spent more than £9 million on NHS transition costs, with a staggering £5.6 million of that being squandered on management consultants? Is this not a further sign of a Government with their priorities all wrong, wasting precious public money on management consultants to push through a reorganisation that nobody wanted, while they are handing out P45s to our nurses?

If the hon. Gentleman is shocked at consultancy spend in the NHS today, he will be even more shocked to know that it was nearly double when his party was in power.