MANAGEMENT CONSULTANTS' Pounds 8m NHS BILL; Hospitals and Ambulance Trust Lose out as Money Is Spent on Advisers: 'It's as If They Are Afraid to Make Decisions'
Byline: Madeleine Brindley
FRONT-LINE patient services have missed out on almost pounds 8m in South Wales as the money is spent on expensive management consultants, it was claimed last night. Experts have criticised the NHS' dependence on private firms, which are often paid large sums for providing advice.
Figures obtained by the Conservatives, under the Freedom of Information Act, reveal NHS Wales has spent at least pounds 18m on consultancy fees in the past decade.
This is equivalent to the cost of employing more than 900 nurses and midwives for a year, or half the cost of the new Ysbyty Cwm Rhondda,whichthismonthopened in Llwynypia.
The huge spend on management consultants includes more than pounds 5m in Cardiff and the Vale of Glamorgan, a further pounds 1.3m at Velindre NHS Trust and pounds 1.6m at the cash-strapped Welsh Ambulance Services NHS Trust.
Some firms have charged the Assembly Government pounds 750 a day for workshops.
Jonathan Morgan, Assembly Member for Cardiff North, who obtained the information, said: "These are extraordinary figures and an awful lot of taxpayers' money not to be directed at front-line health services. We know already that there is a historic debt crisis in the NHS. In these extremely difficult economic times, expenditureneeds to be rigorously controlled. "The new health boards cannot expect the [Health] Minister to keep writing debts off year after year. "It is therefore vital that these new organisations keep on top of every pound that is spent and, more importantly, where it is spent.
" The former Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, which ceased to exist in October, spent more than pounds 5.3m over the course of 10 years on external management consultants. More than half that bill related to all-Wales work undertaken on behalf of the Assembly Government, according to its response to the Freedom of Information request. And a 71-day contract with a consultancy firm that was involvedinanexternal reviewfor the former trust cost the organisation a staggering pounds 89,650 - more than pounds 1,200 a day. Jan Williams, chief executive of Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, which last year said it had a pounds 60m gap in funding, saidshecouldnotcomment on matters that related to its predecessor organisations. Cardiff and Vale University Health Board took over the running of NHS services from Cardiff and Vale NHS Trust, Cardiff Local Health Board and the Vale of Glamorgan Local Health Board in October 2009. …