Exclusive: NHS regulator spends 40% of budget on consultants

John Healey, MP
John Healey, MP
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NHS regulator Monitor spent 40 per cent of its budget on millions of pounds on advice from five big firms of private consultants in the last year, final figures reveal.

The contracts totalling £7.8m include an “interim fee” of £1m for work by turnaround experts from Ernst & Young at the scandal-hit Mid Staffordshire NHS trust.

Figures for 2012-13 show Monitor also paid PwC £3m, McKinsey £1.9m, KPMG £1.1m and Deloitte £800,000 from its £19.5m budget.

Monitor’s heavy reliance on private sector finance and management consultants – exposed by the Yorkshire Post in March – has triggered renewed criticism of the regulator which has taken key new powers under the Government’s controversial NHS reforms.

In Barnsley, MPs have already complained about a report for Monitor by McKinsey into the town’s NHS trust which they said had been “undermined by a range of omissions, flaws and inaccuracies”. Rotherham’s NHS trust chiefs expressed “significant reservations” over another McKinsey report.

Wentworth and Dearne Labour MP John Healey said: “People are right to be concerned about what Monitor is doing and what Monitor is spending. Our experience is that it relies entirely on these hired guns from the big consultancies who produce standard reports concerned with finance and organisation rather than quality of care and patients. Monitor is able to operate at one step removed, with Ministers as a shield between them and proper public and parliamentary accountability.

“It raises questions about who monitors Monitor and why a public body is racking up such big bills with these private consultancies.”

Monitor did not respond to a request for comment last night but has previously said it contracted expertise around times of peak activity and on specialised subjects and used “rigorous” competitive tendering to ensure value for money.