The Department of Health spent a record £626million on external management consultants last year, the Daily Mail can reveal.
The department’s latest accounts show NHS bosses continuing to splash the cash on the advisers, despite academic evidence suggesting they make matters less efficient over time.
Including NHS England and NHS Providers, the department’s £626million bill for management consultants in 2021/22 was up £123million from the previous year.
The figures come as ministers were revealed to have quietly dropped restrictions on spending controls.
The department tried to justify the increased outlay, saying: ‘The increase on consultancy spend relates to specific Covid-19 workstreams and the New Hospital programme that required specialist support not available within the department.’
The Department of Health spent a record £626million on external management consultants last year, the Daily Mail can reveal
Labour health spokesman Wes Streeting said: ‘Taxpayers are shelling out hundreds of millions of pounds on consultants, yet the promised 40 new hospitals are nowhere to be seen and patients are waiting longer than ever for care.
‘What is the Government getting for these vast sums? Advice on what to do with the £15billion of unusable PPE it has purchased?
‘Under the Conservatives, we’re paying more but getting less.
Labour will reform the NHS to get value for taxpayers’ money and make sure every penny going on the health service is spent wisely.’
Whitehall spending limits, introduced under David Cameron in 2011 and which limited external contracts at £600,000, were scrapped by government officials this week, according to the Guardian.
The Cabinet Office website says spending controls on ‘consultancy and professional services’ have ceased to be a requirement.
A recent study by the universities of Bristol, York and Seville into NHS Trusts that used management consultants found that far from improving matters, they tended to become less efficient over time.
Ian Kirkpatrick, of York University, said that while the study did not show consultants ‘can’t provide value’, it ‘suggested they are not adding much value in aggregate’.
Yet the Government appears to be maintaining or increasing their spending on external advisers in many cases.
John O’Connell, chief executive of the TaxPayers’ Alliance said: ‘Taxpayers will be wondering what on earth the NHS is receiving from this expenditure.
Labour health spokesman Wes Streeting said: ‘Taxpayers are shelling out hundreds of millions of pounds on consultants, yet the promised 40 new hospitals are nowhere to be seen and patients are waiting longer than ever for care’
‘While consultants may have expertise worth imparting, taxpayers are yet to see any real improvements.
‘Health bosses should review this spending to ensure it’s really value for money.’
A department spokesman said: ‘The department utilises off-payroll, temporary and consultancy staff where it is necessary and prudent to do so.’