Hackney NHS spent more than �4 million on consultancy services

HACKNEY’S NHS trust has come under fire after new figures revealed it spent more than �4 million on “excessive” consultancy services in the last year.

Research released by the Department of Health shows that City and Hackney Teaching Primary Care Trust paid out �4,198,000 between 2009 and 2010 on services such as external management consultants.

This makes the organisation the tenth highest spender on consultancy out of around 150 primary care trusts in England.

Hackney’s consultancy bill cost �18.80 per head of the population and is equivalent to about 125 nurses.

The borough’s healthcare watchdog, Hackney Local Involvement Network (LINk), has expressed concern about the news and demanded an explanation, suggesting the money could have been better spent on front-line care.

Ida Scoullos, Chair of Hackney LINk, said: “This figure seems awfully high. We are asking NHS City and Hackney to explain why it is so high and to identify any specific projects that have involved significant amounts of expenditure on consultancy services.”

The national spend of �313,891,000 on consultancy services in the past year almost equalled spending on skin cancer and lung cancer services combined, according to the DH report.

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Health Secretary Andrew Lansley condemened the “excessive” management bill, saying: “I am staggered by the scale of the expenditure on management consultants in the NHS. Even at a time when it became clear that the nation’s borrowing was out of control, Labour allowed wasteful spending to blossom.”

He has asked NHS trusts to cut management costs by 46% over the next four years.

A spokesman for City and Hackney PCT said consultancy costs included management advice, and the cost of hiring surveyors and architects to work on new facilities such as the South East Hackney Primary Care Resource Centre in Kenworthy Road, Homerton, and St Leonard’s Hospital development in Kingsland Road, Dalston.

“Staff at NHS City and Hackney are health care providers and commissioners and do not have the range of skills needed such as in architecture and surveying on a permanent basis,” he said.