The NHS in England is set to spend £172m on management consultants – a rise of 83% in two years – the Conservatives have claimed.
Tory MP Grant Shapps used the Freedom of Information Act to obtain figures from three-quarters of all NHS trusts.
Trusts are able to employ external consultants for advice on how to run their services and staff. The government has also hired companies such as KPMG and PriceWaterhouseCoopers to act as ‘turnaround teams’ for some failing trusts.
In their report, the Tories said trusts’ spending on consultants was increasing, and that their use was a “reliable yardstick” for job losses and debts.
The report said that a total of £93.8m was spent in 2004-05 on external consultants, rising to £117.9m in 2005-06. The projected spend for 2006-07 is £171.6m.
The figures were calculated using the data returned from trusts, and projections for the remainder.
Shapps said: “I think it’s extremely dubious as to how much effect these consultants are having, other than sacking lots of staff.”
The report cited Brighton and Sussex University Hospitals NHS Trust, which owes more than £6m and is cutting 325 jobs. The hospital has a projected consultants spend of £3.6m, it added.
The British Medical Association said the NHS is wasting hundreds of millions of pounds on management consultants “who don’t have the answers”.
But the Department of Health said the figure should be seen in the context of the annual £70bn NHS budget.